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Levante v Real Madrid

'I love how he played with rage' - Solari praises Bale for match-winning cameo

07:31 GMT 25/02/2019
GarethBale - cropped
The Welshman started on the bench against Levante before emerging to strike the winner for Real Madrid, much to the delight of the head coach

Santiago Solari was delighted with Gareth Bale's response to being dropped, saying the Real Madrid winger played with "rage" in a match-winning cameo.

Bale was demoted to the bench for a second consecutive match against Levante, yet he was called on in place of Karim Benzema – who scored the opener – as Madrid toiled and were pegged back by Roger's goal.

A second Madrid penalty was later awarded and Bale finished coolly from 12 yards, although he appeared to shrug off the opportunity to celebrate with his team-mates, seemingly unhappy at his reduced role.

Solari had no issue with Bale's actions, though, instead simply happy to toast a decisive display from the bench.

"He was happy in the dressing room because he scored," Solari told a news conference of Bale. "I loved how he came on and played with rage.

"He won us the game and did a great job. I thought he had a fantastic match."

On his non-celebration, Solari added: "You [the media] have more eyes than me. What I saw was how hard he worked on the pitch.

"He gave us the victory. If you score the goals, you can celebrate as you want."

Despite a largely underwhelming team performance, Solari saw plenty of positives for Madrid to take away.

"We put the focus on the positives," he said. "And the positive thing was how we worked in this game. It's a very complicated fixture, but we played a very serious match.

"We could have scored earlier with Vinicius [Junior] and the result would have been more substantial."

Bale has contributed 12 goals in 31 appearances across all competitions this season, but it remains to be seen whether or not he will earn a regular spot in Solari's starting XI after his latest display.

Los Blancos must now prepare for a huge doubleheader at the Santiago Bernabeu against arch-rivals Barcelona, which could have a major impact on their overall season.

The Copa Del Rey semifinal second leg is up first on Wednesday before the Blaugrana return to Madrid for a La Liga clash just three days later.