Bale hits hat-trick in Madrid romp

Gareth Bale took his tally to eight goals in his last seven games with a hat-trick as Real Madrid shrugged off the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Valladolid 4-0.

Bale hits hat-trick in Madrid romp
Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

With the Portuguese sidelined by a slight muscle strain, Bale proved to be decisive as he headed home the opener after Diego Marino could only parry Angel di Maria’s cross.

Three minutes later the Welshman teed up Karim Benzema to double Madrid’s lead with a wonderful in-swinging cross that the Frenchman bulleted home.

Bale grabbed his second of the game when Carlos Pena could only turn Marcelo’s cross into the path of the grateful former Tottenham man to slot

And Marcelo was again the provider as Bale completed his first hat-trick in Spanish football with a simple left-footed finish a minute from time.

Victory moved Real to within three points of leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who were also 2-0 victors over Elche on Saturday.

Bale claimed he didn’t feel any added pressure in the absence of Ronaldo, but admitted to being desperate to seal his first Madrid hat-trick after registering his second of the evening with still 26 minutes to go.

“I didn’t feel any pressure to be honest, I just want to go out there and enjoy my football and play as well as I can. I always try to do that and thankfully I got a hat-trick.

“I think as soon as I scored the second I was trying to get the third, I was trying my hardest to get into positions and thankfully the move did work out and it was a great ball by Marcelo to put it on a plate for me.”

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said he believes Bale’s goalscoring form is evidence that he has firmly found his feet in Madrid.

“I think that his adaption period has finished as I said yesterday.

“He is a very important player for us, he is playing with confidence and he did very well today.”

In Ronaldo’s absence, Di Maria was given a chance to start and he nearly had the hosts ahead inside five minutes as he smacked a shot off the underside
of the bar.

Benzema then fired wide and Di Maria couldn’t beat Marino when played clean through on goal as Madrid piled on the pressure.

And it finally told on 33 minutes when Di Maria burst down the left and his cross-come-shot was only parried by Marino into the path of Bale, who headed into the unguarded net.

Moments later Bale was the provider as his sumptuous cross left Benzema with an easy task to head home the second.

Madrid continued to dominate after the break and Bale made it three just after the hour mark when he steered home Marcelo’s cross on his weaker right foot.

And the 24-year-old was left with the easiest of finishes to round off a perfect hat-trick when he turned home Marcelo’s low cross with his left foot.

Earlier, Atletico moved level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table after goals from Koke and Diego Costa gave them a hard-fought 2-0 win at Elche.

After a first-half devoid of clear-cut scoring opportunities, Atletico took the lead on 63 minutes when Koke bundled home from close range when Manuel Herrera could only parry Raul Garcia’s shot from distance.

Costa had endured a quiet afternoon by his standards but he doubled the advantage 11 minutes later as he raced onto Adrian Lopez’s through ball before slotting home his 18th goal of the season.

Atletico boss Diego Simeone had recalled six first-team regulars rested for Tuesday’s 1-1 draw away to Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League.

However, he recognised that it wasn’t until the introduction of Garcia and Adrian in the second-half that Atletico began to take control.

“It is a very important victory against a very difficult opponent,” he said.

“We started well in the first-half but then Elche had two or three dangerous counter-attacks. At half-time we talked and saw that we needed to use the wings more. The introduction of Raul Garcia and Adrian gave us the creativity we needed in the tightest moments of the game.”

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.