AAP Soccer

Bale shines as Madrid start with victory

By AAP Newswire

Gareth Bale has continued his swift change in fortunes at Real Madrid by starting in their opening Spanish La Liga game of the season and helping inspire them to a 3-1 win at Celta Vigo.

The Welshman looked set to leave the Bernabeu after being effectively told he had no future in pre-season and coming close to landing a lucrative move to China.

But Bale was surprisingly preferred over Isco and Lucas Vazquez for Real's trip to the Balaidos and responded by setting up the opening goal for Karim Benzema on 12 minutes.

Real rode their luck in the early stages and had Luka Modric sent off in the 56th minute for a foul on Denis Suarez.

But goals from Toni Kroos (61st) and substitute Vazquez (80th) wrapped up victory before Iker Losada Aragunde's late consolation goal.

The story of the match though was Bale, who got the start in part because Eden Hazard was unavailable due to a thigh injury.

"Before the game we talked two or three times to say that he's going to stay. With the game Gareth had, now we just need to think about the season," coach Zinedine Zidane said.

"I think he and everyone else now are thinking about playing and staying."

Mikel Oyarzabal's penalty deep into added time salvaged a 1-1 draw for Real Sociedad against Valencia at the Mestalla.

The hosts took a 58th-minute lead through Kevin Gameiro but in the 100th minute of the game, Francis Coquelin was sent off for a handball and Oyarzabal scored from the spot.

Villarreal and Granada kicked off the season in fine style by sharing the spoils after a thrilling 4-4 draw at Estadio De La Ceramica.

Santi Cazorla's penalty gave the Yellow Submarine the lead before Fede Vico levelled the scores with a spot-kick of his own just before half-time.

Moi Gomez restored Villarreal's lead only for Ruben Pena's own goal to restore parity once more.

Gerard Moreno gave Javier Calleja's side the lead for the third time in the match and Samuel Chukwueze looked to have won it when he made it 4-2 with 17 minutes remaining.

Roberto Soldado grabbed a goal back for Granada in the 75th minute and Antonio Puertas secured a dramatic point with a third equaliser after 81 minutes.

Paulo Oliveira's own goal on 75 minutes handed Mallorca a 2-1 victory at home to Eibar.

Eibar centre-back Oliveira had earlier equalised Dani Rodriguez's fourth-minute opener before putting into his own net.

Ezequiel Avila scored the only goal for Osasuna in their 1-0 victory over Leganes, who had Oscar Arnaiz sent off in added time.