Spanish La Liga
Real Madrid2Espanyol0

Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale played for the first time since 22 November, when he was injured against Sporting Lisbon

Gareth Bale scored a superb goal on his return after almost three months out with an ankle injury as La Liga leaders Real Madrid beat Espanyol.

The Wales forward, on as a second-half substitute, collected Isco's pass before running at the visitors' defence and slotting a shot past Diego Lopez.

Alvaro Morata had headed Real in front in the first half from Isco's cross.

Victory leaves Real three points ahead of second-placed Sevilla, who beat Eibar 2-0.

Barcelona, one point further back in third, host Leganes on Sunday.

Bale back in the groove

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Real Madrid have motored on pretty nicely since Bale suffered his injury during a 2-1 Champions League group-stage win at Sporting Lisbon on 22 November - winning the Club World Cup, progressing in Europe and taking command of the Spanish title race.

Nonetheless, manager Zinedine Zidane was pleased to have the forward back in training last weekend, and took the opportunity to give him a 19-minute run-out in what was a fairly straightforward win.

Zidane made seven changes to the team who beat a lively Napoli side 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 meeting on Wednesday, leaving goalkeeper Keylor Navas, midfielder Luka Modric and striker Karim Benzema out of his squad altogether.

With a packed fixture schedule over the next few weeks, Zidane's decision to give key players a breather proved a wise one.

Mid-table Espanyol, for their part, offered little resistance, defending poorly as Morata headed in the opener and rarely looking like getting back into the game thereafter.

Bale's goalscoring return added extra gloss to the performance for Zidane - who will need all of his key forwards fit for the challenges ahead.

The Wales international said: "The reception I got when I came on was incredible. It's great to be back and get a win.

"It's rewarding to come back and score a goal. I've only been training with the first team for five days - I'm lacking a lot of fitness."

Zidane added: "I told him to enjoy the game, he is a special player, different to everyone else.

"It doesn't look like he's been out for three months. He's very powerful, he makes the difference and that's why he's special."

Gameiro hits a treble

Kevin Gameiro
Kevin Gameiro's hat-trick was the fastest in La Liga since 2006 - when David Villa hit three in less than five minutes for Valencia against Athletic Bilbao

Kevin Gameiro scored a five-minute hat-trick as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid won 4-1 at Sporting Gijon.

The second-half substitute's efforts ensured that Diego Simeone's side won at El Molinon for the first time since 2008.

Yannick Carrasco scored within 20 seconds of the restart in the second half to give Atletico the lead before Sergio Alvarez levelled two minutes later.

Gameiro came on in the 61st minute and scored his first in the 79th - tucking in from Antoine Griezmann's deft reverse pass.

The £28m Frenchman grabbed his second with a low-angled strike before completing his hat-trick with a near-identical shot in the 84th minute.

Sarabia and Vitolo send Sevilla second

Pablo Sarabia
Pablo Sarabia's goal was his eighth of the season for Sevilla

Sevilla prepared for Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first-leg home match against Leicester with a 2-0 victory over Eibar, secured with goals from Pablo Sarabia and Vitolo.

Former Manchester City forward Stevan Jovetic created both goals, crossing for Sarabia to volley home in the 30th minute, and sliding a pass across goal for Vitolo to convert in stoppage time as the visitors chased an equaliser.

The win lifted Sevilla into second, although Barcelona will move back above them by avoiding defeat at home to Leganes.

Line-ups

Real Madrid

  • 13Casilla
  • 2Carvajal
  • 3Pepe
  • 5Varane
  • 6NachoSubstituted forMarceloat 81'minutes
  • 22IscoBooked at 48mins
  • 8Kroos
  • 16KovacicBooked at 41minsSubstituted forCasemiroat 61'minutesBooked at 82mins
  • 17Vázquez
  • 21MorataSubstituted forBaleat 71'minutes
  • 7Cristiano Ronaldo

Substitutes

  • 10Rodríguez
  • 11Bale
  • 12Marcelo
  • 14Casemiro
  • 18Mariano
  • 20Asensio
  • 25Yáñez

Espanyol

  • 13López
  • 15López
  • 6Duarte
  • 23Reyes
  • 12MartínBooked at 80mins
  • 7MorenoBooked at 28mins
  • 20DiopBooked at 68mins
  • 18FuegoBooked at 53mins
  • 14JuradoSubstituted forVázquezat 82'minutes
  • 19Piatti
  • 9ReyesSubstituted forPérezat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Jiménez
  • 3Duarte
  • 5Álvarez
  • 10Caicedo
  • 17Pérez
  • 22Vázquez
  • 28Roca
Referee:
Alberto Undiano Mallenco
Attendance:
72,234

Match Stats

Home TeamReal MadridAway TeamEspanyol
Possession
Home68%
Away32%
Shots
Home13
Away3
Shots on Target
Home3
Away1
Corners
Home13
Away2
Fouls
Home12
Away13

Live Text

Match ends, Real Madrid 2, Espanyol 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Real Madrid 2, Espanyol 0.

Offside, Real Madrid. Isco tries a through ball, but Cristiano Ronaldo is caught offside.

Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by David López.

Foul by Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid).

Aarón Martín (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Real Madrid. Pepe tries a through ball, but Cristiano Ronaldo is caught offside.

Goal!

Goal! Real Madrid 2, Espanyol 0. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Isco with a through ball following a fast break.

Booking

Casemiro (Real Madrid) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Casemiro (Real Madrid).

Hernán Pérez (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Pepe (Real Madrid) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Toni Kroos with a cross following a set piece situation.

Substitution

Substitution, Espanyol. Álvaro Vázquez replaces Jurado.

Substitution

Substitution, Real Madrid. Marcelo replaces Nacho.

Booking

Aarón Martín (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Aarón Martín (Espanyol).

Attempt missed. Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Toni Kroos.

Foul by Nacho (Real Madrid).

Javi Fuego (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Cristiano Ronaldo with a headed pass.

Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by David López.

Attempt missed. Jurado (Espanyol) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Aarón Martín.

Casemiro (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Hernán Pérez (Espanyol).

Substitution

Substitution, Real Madrid. Gareth Bale replaces Álvaro Morata.

Attempt missed. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Álvaro Morata with a cross.

Booking

Papakouly Diop (Espanyol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Casemiro (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Papakouly Diop (Espanyol).

Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by David López.

Nacho (Real Madrid) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Hernán Pérez (Espanyol).

Foul by Casemiro (Real Madrid).

Papakouly Diop (Espanyol) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Casemiro (Real Madrid) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Attempt missed. Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Papakouly Diop (Espanyol).

Hand ball by Lucas Vázquez (Real Madrid).

goal

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Saturday 18th February 2017

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Real Madrid21164156183852
2Sevilla23154446281849
3Barcelona22146261184348
4Atl Madrid23136443192445
5Real Sociedad2213273631541
6Villarreal2299429151436
7Eibar2310583631535
8Ath Bilbao2210572826235
9Espanyol238873031-132
10Celta Vigo219393336-330
11Alavés237972228-630
12Las Palmas227783133-228
13Real Betis2266102235-1324
14Malaga225892936-723
15Valencia2155112940-1120
16Dep La Coruña2247112635-919
17Leganés2246121537-2218
18Sporting Gijón2344152547-2216
19Granada2337132149-2816
20Osasuna2217142449-2510
View full Spanish La Liga table

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