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UEFA Champions League

Bale: Champions League overhead should have won Puskas Award, not Salah

19:33 GMT+3 03/12/2018
Gareth Bale bicycle kick Champions League
The Real Madrid forward is still baffled at how his stunning goal in a European showpiece was snubbed in favour of a derby strike by a Liverpool star

Gareth Bale believes his overhead kick for Real Madrid in the Champions League final should have landed the Puskas Award, with Mohamed Salah’s nod seeing the prize “diminished”.

The Wales international became a leading contender for a prestigious FIFA gong after netting a stunning effort in a European showpiece against Liverpool.

His strike illuminated the grandest of stages, with Bale having stepped off the bench for Real in Kiev to net twice and secure an historic third successive continental crown.

He was, however, to be overlooked in the vote, with Egyptian frontman Salah favoured after netting a slaloming solo effort in a derby date with Everton.

“Yeah, I was surprised by that, to be honest,” Bale told FourFourTwo when quizzed on whether he felt hard by.

“What can you say? It makes the award look a little diminished, although it was obviously a great goal by Salah.”

While Bale was left disappointed at the lack of recognition for his wonder strike against Liverpool, nobody can take the achievement away from him.

The 29-year-old claims he knew he had done something special from the moment the ball left his boot, with the cleanest of connections allowing him to beat Loris Karius from around 15 yards out.

“It was instinctive,” Bale added.

“I got my body positioned correctly, got my footwork right, and caught it perfectly. When you catch the ball perfectly, you know it’s on target.

“You just have to hope the keeper doesn’t make an unbelievable save. So as soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance of going in. If you watch it, you see my head turn straight away. I knew where the ball was going.”

Bale has made a habit of producing the spectacular down the years, across spells at Tottenham at Real, but concedes that a magical moment against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds is the pick of his career to date.

“I think you’d have to say that [it was my best goal],” he said.

“There haven’t been too many like that! I did love the one in the [2014] Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, but as this one was on such a big stage – the Champions League final, the biggest game in club football – and technically it was the winner, I’d have to say that it’s the best.”

Bale is currently trying to rekindle that spark in the 2018-19 campaign, with the Welshman on a barren run in La Liga which has seen him go 10 games without finding the target.