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Bale injured as Zidane’s Madrid hit five again

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale (R) talks to teammate Cristiano Ronaldo after being injured during the Spanish La Liga match against Malaga FC in Madrid on April 18, 2015 (AFP Photo/Gerard Julien)

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale (R) talks to teammate Cristiano Ronaldo after being injured during the Spanish La Liga match against Malaga FC in Madrid on April 18, 2015 (AFP Photo/Gerard Julien)

MADRID, January 17 – Zinedine Zidane’s dream start to life as Real Madrid boss continued as Los Blancos scored four times in the opening 18 minutes on their way to a 5-1 rout of Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

However, Madrid’s joy was tempered as Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema both had to be replaced due to injuries.

Bale limped off with what looked like the recurrence of a calf problem just before half-time having scoring his 11th goal in eight games.

Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo also scored twice in the first-half before the former picked up a knock in a collision with teammate James Rodriguez.

Madrid have now scored 35 goals in six games at home since losing to 4-0 to Barcelona in November.

Victory takes Madrid above Barcelona and to within a point of leaders Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.

However, Atletico and Barca are in action later  when they face Las Palmas and Athletic Bilbao respectively.

Having thrashed Deportivo la Coruna 5-0 in his managerial bow at the Bernabeu last weekend, Zidane made just one change with Raphael Varane replacing injured captain Sergio Ramos.

Sporting had surprisingly held Madrid to a 0-0 draw on the opening day of the season, but were powerless to stop Real’s rampant ‘BBC’ frontline of Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo early on.

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Bale scored his seventh headed goal of the season from Toni Kross’s corner on seven minutes to get the hosts off to the perfect start.

Ronaldo showed his frustration at not getting on the scoresheet against Deportivo last weekend and made amends moments later by smashing Benzema’s through ball into the roof of the net.

Benzema then produced a special finish of his own as he acrobatically swivelled to volley home Bale’s cross.

And another flowing Madrid move saw Ronaldo sweep home Dani Carvajal’s cross at the near post two minutes later.

There was some brief respite for Sporting as Zidane’s men waited 23 minutes to add the fifth when brilliant play from Isco freed Benzema to roll in his 20th goal in 19 appearances this season.

However, Madrid suffered a setback when Bale pulled up seconds before the break and had to be replaced by Jese Rodriguez for the second period.

Without the Welshman, Sporting managed to restore some pride after half-time and were rewarded when Isma Lopez rounded off a fine team goal just after the hour mark.

Benzema also then had to be replaced after colliding with Rodriguez on the edge of the box, but the Frenchman was able to walk off the field and his problem seems less of a concern than the injured suffered by Bale.

Earlier, Gary Neville’s winless streak as Valencia boss in La Liga stretched to six games in a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to relegation threatened Rayo Vallecano.

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Los Che were heavily favoured to end a two-month run without a league win against a Rayo side that has lost six of their last seven league games – conceding 23 goals in the process.

However, they twice had to come from behind as Alvaro Negredo’s sensational strike from just inside the Rayo half and Paco Alcacer’s late equaliser cancelled out goals from Jozabed and Diego Llorente for Rayo.

A point means Valencia remain closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League places, still 16 points behind Villarreal in fourth and eight ahead of Rayo.

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