Madrid: Gareth Bale silenced his critics by scoring twice as Rafael Benitez got his first win as Real Madrid coach with a 5-0 thrashing of Real Betis.
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring his second goal against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Pic/AFP
Madrid remain two points behind Barcelona as Thomas Vermaelen was the unlikely hero for the European champions as they overcame stiff resistance from Malaga to win 1-0 at the Camp Nou.
Benitez’s men had been held to an embarrassing 0-0 draw by newly promoted Sporting Gijon last weekend, but there was to be no repeat as Bale headed home James Rodriguez’s cross inside two minutes.
Rodriguez then fired an audacious free-kick from a narrow angle into the far corner of the net to double the advantage seven minutes before the break. Bale turned provider at the start of the second period for Karim Benzema to head home the third before Rodriguez produced another spectacular effort with an overhead kick to make it 4-0.
And Bale had the final word with a fierce left-footed effort that clipped the post on its way into the net.
Thomas Vermaelen was the unlikely hero as Barcelona overcame stiff resistance from Malaga to maintain their perfect start to the La Liga season with a 1-0 win at the Camp Nou. The Belgian defender endured a nightmare debut campaign with the Catalans last season as he was perennially sidelined by injury. However, he succeeded where Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar failed as he fired the only goal of the game.