2016/2017 Spanish Primera División
  • Gareth Bale (2', 90'+4')
  • Marco Asensio (40')

Gareth Bale Brace fuels Real Madrid to winning start in la Liga

Gareth Bale made it five goals in four trips to San Sebastian as his early goal set Real Madrid on the way to a comfortable 3-0 victory away to Real Sociedad.

The Wales forward headed home with just over a minute gone and the second arrived in the 40th minute when young midfielder Marco Asensio applied a composed finish to a long ball forward.

Bale book-ended the night with virtually the last kick of the game as he took the ball around Geronimo Rulli to score a third.

Zinedine Zidane had a number of first-team regulars missing for Real's opening La Liga match, with superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo still not fully recovered from the knee ligament injury he suffered playing for Portugal in the Euro 2016 final.

Luka Modric was suspended, goalkeeper Keylor Navas was injured and Zidane was also without French forward Karim Benzema, who has a hip problem.

Bale, therefore, was the only member of the feared "BBC" strike force to feature and he gave Real the perfect start as his powerful header from Dani Carvajal's cross gave the hosts' goalkeeper Rulli no chance.

The crowd applauded warmly in tribute to former Real Sociedad striker Dalian Atkinson in the ninth minute. The Englishman, who most commonly wore the No. 9 shirt in his one season at Anoeta in 1990-91, died last Monday after being Tasered by police in his home town of Telford.

Madrid made a purposeful start and Rulli had to get down well to push a side-footed shot from Toni Kroos wide after Alvaro Morata -- on his second La Liga debut for Real -- cut the ball back into his path in the 20th minute.

They looked solid defensively too and on the one occasion their concentration lapsed, former Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi opted to square the ball rather than shoot after a wonderful through-ball from David Concha.

Morata seemed determined to mark his Madrid return from Juventus with a goal and after evading two challenges, drilled in a shot which Rulli blocked at his near post.

Madrid's second arrived five minutes before the break after a long ball forward caused confusion in the home defence, with Asensio afforded the time to coolly lift the ball over the onrushing Rulli. It was commendable composure for a 20-year-old making his first La Liga start.

Real went close to a third before the interval, but Casemiro headed over from close range after meeting fellow Brazilian Marcelo's cross from the left.

The hosts claimed a penalty early in the second period when Markel Bergara went down under challenge from Carvajal, but he arguably should have tried harder to make telling contact as the ball came to him from the right.

Kroos crashed a left-foot volley against the crossbar 10 minutes into the second period after Rulli's block on a Morata shot rebounded to him.

Rulli made an excellent save to tip wide a sweetly-struck piledriver from Mateo Kovacic midway through the second half after a Sergio Ramos free-kick had been charged down by the defensive wall.

Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez, not chosen to start by Zidane and linked with a big-money move to Chelsea this summer, came on for Morata with 13 minutes to go.

Marcelo chased back well to block after Mikel Oyarzabal appeared to have got away from him and the visitors then survived a penalty appeal when Casemiro fell and handled the ball in the area.

The game ended in unseemly fashion as Ramos needlessly reacted to an aerial challenge by Yuri Berchiche on Bale, who landed awkwardly but was fine to return, and even had time to add his second and Madrid's third in the final moments.