Real Madrid striker says it doesn’t matter his all-important goal in semi-final second leg win over Manchester City was deemed own-goal by UEFA as long as his motive of moving to Madrid to win European titles is attained
Madrid: Gareth Bale believes he has turned a corner at Real Madrid after leading the Spanish giants to their second Champions League final in his three years at the club.
An ecstatic Gareth Bale celebrates a goal during the Champions League semi-final second leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on Wednesday. pic/AFP
Bale’s effort was deflected by Brazilian midfielder Fernando into his own net to hand Madrid a 1-0 win on the night and on aggregate over Manchester City to set up a final date with local rivals Atletico Madrid in Milan on May 28. (Read the full story).
The Welshman scored as Real beat Atletico 4-1 after extra-time in the final two years ago to seal a successful first year in Madrid.
Difficult last season
However, he endured a difficult second season and was even abused his own fans after missing a series of chances when Real bowed out to Juventus at the semi-final stage last season.
“I feel like I’m maturing,” Bale told BT Sports. “My Spanish is getting better and I’m integrating more with the team. It is difficult the first few years, but once you get past that mark then it does get a bit easier. I feel like I’ve turned a corner in that sense now. I’m enjoying my football here.”
Bale was denied his first Champions League goal of the season as UEFA credited the only goal of the tie to the unlucky Fernando. And he said reaching another final justified his decision to resist lucrative offers to return to the Premier League last summer to make his mark in Madrid.
‘Doesn’t matter who scores’
“It doesn’t matter who scored — whether it’s an own goal or whatever,” he added. “The reason I came here was to win the Champions Leagues. I’ve got one already and I’ve got the chance to win another one now. It’s great to be in the final again, but there’s another game to go against a very difficult and stubborn Atletico Madrid team. They are there because they are a good team, but we’re looking forward to it now.”
Cristiano Ronaldo lauded the impact made by Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane as the Frenchman led the Spanish giants into the Champions League final with a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Wednesday.. “Zidane is doing a great job,” said Ronaldo. “I admire him as a coach and a person, I hope he continues in the job. We’ve always been behind Zidane because he is a humble person who likes to listen, and that always makes things easier.”
Ronaldo made his return after a three-game absence due to a thigh injury, but was unable to match his own record of 17 Champions League goals in a single season in a tight game short on clear-cut chances.
“It was a complete game, the team played really well and we could have finished them off with a second goal — 1-0 is a tight scoreline but it’s enough,” added Ronaldo.
Zidane admitted he could bask in some of the glory for Real’s resurgence of 19 wins in his 24 games in charge, but reserved his praise for the players. “I am the coach, so I am doing something right for sure, but it is not just me,” said the Frenchman. “It is a question of all the people working with me and the most important people are the players. It is them that allow you to win in football."