Real Madrid and Wales winger Gareth Bale put in a fantastic individual performance in the Dragons’ Euro 2016 qualifier against Israel, which will give him a much-needed confidence boost following criticism over his domestic form. The 25-year-old scored two goals, and created the third for Chris Coleman’s side to seal a comfortable away win.
The three points put Wales top of Group B, with 11 points from five games. They are unbeaten, and boast the second-best defensive record in the table too, but many tipped them to struggle against Israel. However, Bale was in inspired form at a perfect time to help his side to a surprise result away from home, which also silenced his critics in the process.
This season, the Welsh international has been the subject of criticism following disappointing performances for Real Madrid. He started the campaign strongly, scoring four goals and making three assists in his first seven La Liga games, but has gone off the boil considerably. Bale has netted only two goals in his last 10 games in all competitions, which has seen the Real supporters lose their patience.
But a fantastic showing against Israel has certainly shown his critics just how good he can be. He set up Wales’ opening goal, heading a ball into teammate Aaron Ramsey, who powered his header over the Israeli goalkeeper. He then got on the scoresheet himself with a brilliant free-kick from edge of the area. His second goal and Wales’ third was following a move down the left-hand side, which saw Bale sweep in a cross to wrap up the win.
Bale not only contributed to all three goals, his overall performance was impressive too. He was Wales’ most dangerous player throughout, and was the only one looking to get in behind the defence, as well as looking the most likely to score. It will have been a brief respite from the struggles he’s faced playing for Real Madrid this season, and his post-match interview certainly showed just how much he’s been looking forward to playing for Wales again.
“We knew what a big game it was, it’s a top-of-the-table clash and we don’t often get to say that, and to come out on top is amazing. We’ve put ourselves in a great position. We’re only halfway there, there’s still a lot of games to go and anything can happen. But we’ve put ourselves in a good position and all we can do is keep fighting, keep working hard and hopefully our performances and results can do the talking,” he said.
He’s impressed for his country, but is now hoping to replicate such performances for his club, but can Bale end the season strongly with Real?