The Welsh forward scored twice in the first half at Santiago Bernabeu to earn a much-needed victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Ancelotti and Bale had both come under criticism in the Spanish press following back-to-back defeats to Athletic Bilbao and Schalke but both were able to answer their critics and leave Los Blancos a point behind Barcelona ahead of El Clasico at Camp Nou next weekend.
Luka Modric was a welcome presence in the heart of the Real Madrid midfield, the Croatian making his first La Liga start in over four months. He helped Carlo Ancelotti’s side tick and they almost took the lead within five minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo saw an effort come back off the post.
Bale fired out-of-form Los Merengues in front after 18 minutes with a right-foot volley from eight yards after Ronaldo’s bicycle kick was cleared off the line. It ended a nine-game goal drought for Bale and the Welshman almost inadvertently added a second shortly after when his cross deflected off Simao and onto the crossbar.
Bale doubled the lead five minutes before half time when he got the slightest of touches on Ronaldo’s powerful shot – which may just have been going wide – to guide it into the bottom corner. It was the first time Bale had scored twice in the same game since September and he had a chance to score his second Real Madrid hat-trick late in the second half but missed a one-on-one opportunity with goalkeeper Diego Marino.
Karim Benzema almost scored one of the goals of the season but his sublime back-heel volley from Ronaldo’s cross came back off the crossbar.
Ronaldo was not at his best and cut a frustrated figure for most of the 90 minutes as he failed to find the target for a second successive La Liga game. But his side are back to winning ways and can return to the top of the table with a victory in next Sunday’s crunch Clasico in Catalonia.