Gareth Bale was back in action for Real Madrid on Wednesday night in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Ajax.
Here, Football Paradise assesses the impact of the Wales forward on what was a disappointing night for the Spanish giants as the holders crashed out following a 4-1 defeat.
Bale had been jeered by some sections of the home support when he was substituted just after an hour of Saturday’s 1-0 LaLiga defeat by rivals Barcelona, which his representative Jonathan Barnett labelled as “nothing short of a disgrace”.
After starting on the bench, Bale was unexpectedly called into action after 29 minutes following injury to Lucas Vazquez. After almost giving away a goal when losing possession on the edge of his own penalty area, Bale soon settled and looked in determined mood before his evening ended in tears following what could yet prove a serious ankle injury.
Switching out to the left once Marco Asensio had come on, Bale continued to provide an outlet on the overlap. The Wales forward was played in behind the Ajax defence, running onto a pass from Toni Kroos, and was unfortunate to see his shot hit the near post.
Despite the match drifting away from Madrid, Bale remained keen to get on the ball – before ending the match hobbling by the touchline after his injury.
The former Tottenham man only really had a couple of clear sights on goal, towards the end of either half. The first opportunity was a dinked effort when coming in from the left which floated over the keeper, but came back off the woodwork.
Late on as Real chased an unlikely recovery, Bale was on the end of a ball which dropped through the six-yard box but this time Ajax keeper Andre Onana was across quickly to make a smart save.