Spanish La Liga

Who needs Cristiano Ronaldo? Zinedine Zidane delighted with Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio after Real Madrid record La Liga win over Real Sociedad

The European champions opened their domestic campaign with a 3-0 win despite the absences of the Portugal captain and Karim Benzema

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 1:51pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 2:01pm

Zinedine Zidane praised goalscorers Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio after Real Madrid got their La Liga campaign off to a strong start with a 3-0 win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

The Real coach was without first choice forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema through injury, but a trip to a ground that has caused them plenty of problems in the past got off to a flying start when Bale headed home in the second minute.

Asensio doubled the lead five minutes before half-time with a splendid lob and Bale put an extra shine on the win with a further goal in injury time.

Bale returned to preseason training later than most of his Real teammates due to reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016 with Wales, which Zidane said made his dominant performance even more impressive.

“I’m delighted for him because he’s behind the rest of the players in terms of fitness but you couldn’t tell,” Zidane said.

“He started in the best way possible, scoring an early goal, because this is a difficult ground if you don’t take your chances.

“He has already said this is going to be an important year for him and he is already proving it.”

While Bale is into his fourth campaign since joining Real from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, Asensio was making his league debut for the European champions after returning from an impressive loan spell at Espanyol.

The Spaniard, who signed from Mallorca in 2015, was chosen ahead of Isco and James Rodriguez and scored the best goal of the game, bringing down Raphael Varane’s long pass before producing an effortless chip over goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.

“It hurts my head choosing who to play but I have to decide and he started and did very well,” said Zidane of Asensio.

T“He is working hard and he has talent and quality. He is great on the ball and moving between the lines. His goal was stunning.

“I want to make all the players feel important,” added Zidane, who faces his first full season in charge of the club after leading Real to the Champions League title in May, little more than four months after succeeding Rafael Benitez.

“I have a lot of quality players but they are all doing well, not just in attack, but at the back too, where we conceded few chances and kept a clean sheet.”