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Lopetegui defends Bale: “He had a great game”

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Super Cup
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Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui has defended Gareth Bale following a quiet second-half performance in the club’s 4-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup

The Welsh winger offered glimpses of his pace and skill at Tallinn on Wednesday night and it was his pinpoint cross that enabled Karim Benzema to head in the equaliser in the 27th minute of the final following Diego Costa’s sensational opener for Atletico.

But while Bale continued to trouble the Atletico defence in the first-half by being Real’s main creative spark with his teammates constantly trying to feed him the ball.

However, Bale’s performance faded after the break and he was unable to make any further impact as Costa cancelled out Sergio Ramos’ penalty for Real to put Atletico back level and force the game into extra-time.

Saul Niguez and Koke then sealed a 4-2 win for Diego Simeone’s side to end Real’s hopes of a third straight UEFA Super Cup title.

“He had a great game,” said Lopetegui on Bale, via the club website.

“But it is understandable at this time of the season if the players are not at their best physically, we are very happy with his work and hopefully he will continue to improve over the next matches”.

Real will face Getafe on Sunday for their first game of the new La Liga season.