May 13, 2018 / 9:23 AM / 12 days ago

Resurgent Bale gives Zidane welcome selection dilemma for Kiev

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale made a convincing case to be considered for a starting berth in the Champions League final against Liverpool with two scorching strikes in his side’s 6-0 hammering of Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 12, 2018 Real Madrid's Gareth Bale applauds fans as he is substituted off REUTERS/Susana Vera

Bale put the burners on to race on to a through ball from Luka Modric and fire his side into the lead with a thumping low finish.

He then knocked the ball through the legs of Celta’s Jonny Castro on the right wing and, with his next touch, lashed the ball into the roof of the net to the delight of the usually hard-to-please Santiago Bernabeu faithful, who gave him a standing ovation when he was substituted late in the game.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 12, 2018 Real Madrid's Gareth Bale is substituted off as Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane looks on REUTERS/Susana Vera

“He played very well today and I’m very happy for him, but the important thing is that everyone is in great form heading to the final,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane told a news conference.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 12, 2018 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane REUTERS/Susana Vera

Zidane has left Bale in the margins for most of Madrid’s run to a third consecutive Champions League final, starting him in only one of their six knockout games this season and taking him off at halftime in that game at home to Juventus.

But with six goals and an assist in his last five Liga starts, including the equaliser in last week’s thrilling 2-2 draw at Barcelona, the Wales forward has made a late bid for a return to the starting line-up in the May 26 final in Kiev.

“It’s better like this, to have everyone firing on all cylinders,” added Zidane.

“Of course now deciding a starting 11 for the final is going to give me a real headache.”

Madrid’s top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo was rested against Celta to continue his recovery from a sprained ankle although there is no danger of him missing the final against Liverpool.

Bale’s biggest competitors for a place in the starting line-up against Juergen Klopp’s side are midfielder Isco, who also scored in the win over Celta and has now recovered from a shoulder injury, and Spanish wingers Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio.

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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