Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Gareth Bale's double in Sunday's 2-0 La Liga win over Levante at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu showed the Welsh winger's hunger to overcome recent setbacks.
Madrid followed a most uncomfortable week with a comfortable victory delivered by two first half Bale goals, although the fallout from recent defeats to Athletic Bilbao and Schalke was noticeable in a mixed reception from the Bernabeu crowd.
The former Tottenham player ended a run of nine games without a goal with two deft close-range finishes, and was his side's most dangerous threat on what was another frustrating night for top-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Los Blancos coach told his post-match news conference that Bale, like his teammates, had wanted to bounce back from recent setbacks, while admitting that the return of Luka Modric in midfield had also benefitted the Wales international.
"I saw Bale more motivated, like the team, today," Ancelotti said. "We have all tried to do what we needed to do. I believe Modric has a positive influence [on Bale]. It gives him more chances to get into the game, they know each other very well, played together at Tottenham. For sure he is more comfortable with Modric."
Ronaldo did not seem as happy with either goal as his teammate, with Madrid's top scorer appearing unhappy that his own volley had been saved before Bale knocked in the rebound for the first, and then celebrating himself after his possibly goal-bound shot had been deftly directed to the net by the Wales international.
Ancelotti played down any unhappiness that CR7 might have had over not getting on the scoresheet.
"Cristiano was involved, as the first goal came from a shot he did which was saved on the line," he said. "Then Bale scored. The second the same. Cristiano did not score, but he was involved in the game. He was decisive in Gareth's two goals."
Overall Ancelotti said he was happy with the intensity of the first half performance, but not so much with a dull second half showing in which Madrid lacked incision in their passing, and would have to improve for next Sunday's 'Clasico' at La Liga leaders Barcelona.
"The first half was good, we played well, with good intensity and good quality," he said. "We had good control of the game, lots of chances. A bit less in the second half, we were more relaxed, played too many sideways ball. We did well for one half today, we need to do well in the whole game on Sunday. It will be a different game. We need to be at our best, then we can win."
The game also saw returning from injury pair Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos come through without any problems, while Toni Kroos [an unused substitute] and [taken off early] Isco avoided the yellow cards which would have seen them miss next Sunday's game.
Asked if he already knew his team for the Camp Nou, the Italian coach brought loud laughter to the press room with a reference to club captain Iker Casillas having been rested for today's game, although most pundits still expect him to displace Keylor Navas for next weekend.
"We go to the Camp Nou with almost all the squad available," Ancelotti said. "It is not too difficult, there will be no surprises, unless I go crazy. I have a doubt in goals. We have the possibility to train all week and prepare well for the game, physically and tactically. Of course that gives us an advantage, but Barca are also used to playing every three days, without a problem."