KEIR RADNEDGE in KIEV: Gareth Bale promised to think hard about his future at Real Madrid after scoring his “dream goal” in their 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League Final in Kiev.
The Wales forward proved decisive with two goals after joining the game with half an hour remaining as a substitute for Isco.
He had told interviewers before the game that without guaranteed first-team football he would have to ponder his LaLiga future but he provided the answer to his own question with a brilliant bicycle kick opener and then long-range second.
Madrid had disappointed in Spanish domestic competitions partly because Bale, for all his €100m fee has not delivered such performances consistently, partly because of season-disrupting injuries.
After accepting his man of the match award, Bale said: “On the biggest stage in world football to score a goal like that is a dream come true. I’ve never scored a bicycle kick goal before and it’s something I’ve always wanted.
“I obviously saw Marcelo clipping the ball in at the right height and thought: ‘Why not give it a go?’ and it was great to see it flying in the back of the net.
“On the second goal the space opened up and I tried to put some wobble on the ball and make it difficult for the goalkeeper. Obviously that was unfortunate for him but every goal counts.”
Coach Zinedine Zidane may think privately that dropping Bale to the substitutes’ bench had goaded the Welshman into hitting peak form when it mattered most.
Bale said: “I was very disappointed at being a substitute. I felt I’d been been playing well but I know, as a professional, that the team isn’t about 11 players it’s about the squad and when you have a chance you have to try to make an impact so that’s what I did.
“But I feel I need to be playing every week and if that’s not the case here I’ll sit down in the summer with my agent and reflect on things.”
Cristiano Ronaldo also promised after the final to make an announcement about his future before he leads Portugal into the World Cup finals next month.
Zidane tried to shrug off question about his star forwards’ futures as he delivered his own post-match analysis.
He said: “That’s not what is on my mind right now. We are thinking about this major achievement and we have to focus solely on that. Then we’ll see what happens.”
Zidane acknowledged that Madrid had not lived up to expectations in the Spanish league and cup but victory in Kiev had demonstrated the qualities of his “amazing” squad and their oommitment in pursuit of this latest competitive pinnacle.
He said: “There is no great secret. It’s the product of a lot of hard work and a lot of talent. This team are always are hungry for more goals and more victories. This has brought us great successes with three wins in succession and nobody has done that.”
Not, at least, in the Champions League era.
As for Zidane himself, no coach in the entire 62-year history of the European Champions Cup has masterminded three triumphs in a row.
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