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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Gareth Bale's double for Real Madrid gives Zinedine Zidane Uefa Champions League final hint

Happy selection headache for manager ahead of summit clash against Liverpool in Kiev

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, right, celebrates with his teammate Karim Benzama after scoring against Celta Vigo. JP Gandul / EPA
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, right, celebrates with his teammate Karim Benzama after scoring against Celta Vigo. JP Gandul / EPA

Gareth Bale scored twice as Real Madrid routed Celta Vigo 6-0 on Saturday to give manager Zinedine Zidane a selection headache for the Uefa Champions League final.

With Cristiano Ronaldo again sidelined with an ankle injury, Welsh star Bale stepped into the limelight with two first-half strikes to push his case for a starting spot in the European showpiece against Liverpool in Kiev in two weeks' time.

Bale opened his account after 13 minutes on Saturday, picking up a sweetly-timed through ball from Luka Modric to score. His second on the half-hour mark saw him dash to the byline before tucking the ball to one side of a defender and then unleashing a sharp left-footed drive into the corner of the net.

Bale celebrated by dedicating his performance to his third son Axel Charles who was born on Tuesday.

"It's better for everyone to be over-motivated and ready," Zidane said. "It will be a headache to put a team together for the Champions League final."

Isco made it 3-0 for Madrid after 32 minutes before Moroccan midfielder Achraf added the fourth, seven minutes into the second half.

On a miserable night for mid-table Celta, Sergi Gomez put through his own net on 74 minutes, leaving German international Toni Kroos to tuck away Madrid's sixth goal after 81 minutes.

Madrid stay in third place in the table on 75 points, 15 behind champions Barcelona and three back from city rivals Atletico with one game left to play.

Earlier on Saturday, Koke's early goal proved enough for Atletico to claim a 1-0 win at Getafe and remain on course to finish in second place.

Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak also saved a late penalty from Faycal Fajr as Diego Simeone's men warmed up for Wednesday's Europa League final against Marseille by denting Getafe's hopes of playing continental football next season.

The capital club got off to a quick start in the local derby, as Koke collected Antoine Griezmann's pass and drove a low shot into the bottom corner to score his fourth goal of the campaign in the eighth minute.

Getafe missed a chance to stay just two points adrift of seventh-placed Sevilla in the chase to qualify for the Europa League, as Fajr's 77th-minute spot-kick was kept out by Slovenian Oblak.

Simeone conceded the challenge posed by Marseille would be different to that encountered at Getafe.

"We will face a team who are very enthusiastic, with very good attacking players. They are a team that work well at the tactical level," the Argentine said.

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was a visibly pleased man. JP Gandul / EPA
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was a visibly pleased man. JP Gandul / EPA

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Read more:

Dembele showed against Villarreal he has the hallmarks of a Barcelona legend in the making

Andy Mitten from Camp Nou: Drama, excitement, a red card and no shortage of great goals

In pictures: Iniesta takes in final Barcelona parade as fans line streets to celebrate double

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Sevilla would have wrapped up a top-seven finish with victory in their derby at Real Betis, but Loren's equaliser with nine minutes to play snatched the home team a 2-2 draw.

Managerless Sevilla, who reached this season's Champions League quarter-finals, now have to beat Alaves next weekend to secure a spot in Europe's second-tier competition.

Elsewhere, Samu Castillejo scored twice as Villarreal beat relegated Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 to leapfrog Betis into fifth, with Denis Cheryshev also netting a day after being recalled to the preliminary Russian World Cup squad.