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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 January 2019

Gareth Bale ends goal drought as Real Madrid edge past basement side Huesca

Wales forward, who had not found net in Primera Liga since September 1, gives Madrid ideal start by volleying home cross from Alvaro Odriozola

Welshman Gareth Bale scored Real Madrid's only goal against Huesca on Sunday. Reuters
Welshman Gareth Bale scored Real Madrid's only goal against Huesca on Sunday. Reuters

Gareth Bale scored the only goal as Real Madrid moved into the top four of LaLiga with a hard-fought 1-0 win at bottom side Huesca.

The Wales international volleyed home after just eight minutes but the European champions were equally thankful to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as they claimed the points.

Huesca battled hard throughout and Gonzalo Melero spurned a great opportunity to level while Courtois kept out a number of fine efforts, including a last-gasp Moi Gomez free-kick.

Madrid were playing their first game since midfielder Luka Modric was awarded the Ballon d'Or, but the Croatian was substituted after 66 minutes of what proved a difficult afternoon in blustery conditions.

The visitors did start well, however. Huesca did have an early opportunity through Xabier Etxeita but Madrid soon took the lead.

Alvaro Odriozola picked out Bale with a perfectly lofted cross to the far post and the former Tottenham Hotspur star delicately sidefooted in with his left boot.

Huesca responded well and went close to an equaliser after 17 minutes as Ezequiel Avila tested Courtois. It initially seemed the Huesca attack had broken down as David Ferreiro's cross was half-cleared but Gomez seized possession to tee up Avila, and his firm strike was pushed away by Courtois.

Bale went close to doubling Madrid's lead after 25 minutes with a curling shot from 25 yards but Aleksandar Jovanovic was equal to it and pushed over.

Despite that, Madrid struggled to convince and the game was short on chances.

It was not until after the break that either side seriously threatened again when Huesca missed a gilt-edged chance.

Melero, who had come on in the first half for the injured Juan Aguilera, seemed certain to score as he arrived unmarked less than six yards out to meet Ferreiro's cross but he somehow headed wide.

Ferreiro went close himself 10 minutes later with a stinging effort from the edge of the area but Courtois palmed over.

A poor clearance from Jovanovic allowed Madrid the chance to break but the goalkeeper redeemed himself by getting his body in the way to deflect over Bale's shot from a tight angle.

Huesca finished strongly but Marcos Llorente stopped a Serdar Gurler charge and an attempted volley from Jorge Pulido flew well over.

Cucho Hernandez also shot over on the turn before Courtois pushed over Gomez's set-piece.

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Earlier, Borja Mayoral salvaged a point for Levante with a stoppage-time equaliser in a thrilling 4-4 draw away to Eibar.

Eibar, who beat Madrid 3-0 in their last home game, led 4-2 with 15 minutes to play after a quickfire double by Charles added to goals from Sergi Enrich and Gonzalo Escalante.

But Levante snatched a draw as Tono halved the deficit before Mayoral struck at the death.

Updated: December 9, 2018 10:26 PM

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