Bale back to himself
29 March 2015, 11:08
Haifa - Gareth Bale forgot all about his recent troubles at Real Madrid when scoring twice in a superb Wales victory over Israel on Saturday that kept them on course for next year's Euro 2016 finals in France.
The 3-0 win, which lifted Wales to the top of qualifying Group B, was not just down to the world's most expensive footballer but he certainly had a lot to do with it with a typically energetic and dynamic performance.
It was exactly the sort of display that persuaded Real to buy him from Tottenham Hotspur for a world record fee of 85.3 million pounds ($126.88 million) in August 2013 and provided convincing evidence there is little wrong with his game -- no matter what some Real fans think.
Despite his decisive goal in last season's Champions League final when Real beat Atletico Madrid in Lisbon and his significant part in three other trophies in his first 18 months in Madrid, some Real fans have it in for the 25-year-old.
They have made Bale the scapegoat for Real's recent lack of form, aiming punches and kicks at his car as he left training with thousands calling for him to be dropped after last week's defeat to Barcelona in La Liga.
The unrest at Real has prompted headlines back in England, where he started at Southampton before moving to Spurs, speculating that he could be on his way back to the Premier League with Manchester United who are reportedly interested in signing him.
Bale has largely remained above the debate, which to most outsiders, seems utterly illogical, and he gave the Spanish detractors plenty to think about with the way he played in Haifa.
He helped set up the first Welsh goal with a cushioned header which allowed Aaron Ramsey to head home. He then scored the second with a direct free-kick and nailed the points by sweeping home their third.
"We were buzzing in the second half, and we showed what a good team we are," he told Sky Sports afterwards.
Unlike Real Madrid, Wales have not gorged on endless success over the decades, but they do have a realistic chance of reaching their first finals since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
Even if they were to fail, one thing seems certain: the Welsh will not turn on Bale like some Madrid fans have done.
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