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Bale injury overshadows Ronaldo heroics

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 Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale (R) is attended after being injured during the UEFA Champions League group against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 15, 2015. PHOTO/AFP

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale (R) is attended after being injured during the UEFA Champions League group against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 15, 2015. PHOTO/AFP

MADRID, September 16- Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez fears Welsh star Gareth Bale could be set for a significant spell on the sidelines due to a calf muscle injury.

Bale was forced off after just half an hour of Madrid’s 4-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk to open the Spanish giants’ Champions League campaign on Tuesday.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring before Cristiano Ronaldo struck his second hat-trick in as many games to move clear of Lionel Messi as the competition’s all-time leading goalscorer with 80.

“Great win at home to kick off our #UCL campaign, gutted to go off but hopefully nothing too serious,” Bale posted on his official Twitter account.

However, Benitez was more pessimistic over his chances of facing Granada on Saturday.

“Bale had a spasm in his calf muscle,” said Benitez.

“We must wait a day or two to see how serious it is. He had a similar issue last year.”

Bale was sidelined for nearly three weeks with a calf problem last season that forced him to miss the second leg of Real’s Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid.

Should the injury be more serious, he could also miss out on sealing Wales’ qualification for an international tournament for the first time since 1958 when they travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina before hosting Andorra next month.

Defenders Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos also had to be replaced due to minor ankle and shoulder injuries respectively, but Benitez is more confident that they could be fit for the weekend.

“Obviously we have to wait, I said before two of them are knocks. Gareth is the only one that I am a little bit more negative with but I have to wait to see what the doctor says.”

Early season fears that Benitez’s Madrid might not have the same attacking prowess as in previous seasons have been dispelled as Los Blancos have now scored 15 times in their last three outings.

However, the former Liverpool and Chelsea boss was also keen to stress the importance of keeping their fourth consecutive clean sheet against a talented Shakhtar side.

“It was a difficult game. They are a team that control the ball well and that makes it more difficult when it comes to defending,” he added.

“They have fast and skillful players. Despite not shining, we had plenty of chances and were clinical.

“I am satisfied to have taken our chances and to not concede any goals. The only negative was the injuries to the three players we had to substitute.”

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