In the wise words of Zinedine Zidane, Gareth Bale was "phenomenal."
Without Cristiano Ronaldo against Rayo Vallecano, Bale took matters into his own hands and propelled Los Blancos to a come-from-behind victory. Although the Dark Invader didn't score against Villareal, his three goals to finish off Wolfsburg remain fresh in Madridista's minds. It appears Cristiano has reached peak season form and his potential absence in the near future with Manchester City on the horizon is worrisome.
However, cometh the hour, cometh the man, Bale reassured Madridistas that he's just as capable of exhibiting world class heroics.
Bale was red hot from the get-go against Rayo. Before Los Franjirrojos created any control or threatening behavior, Bale rifled a shot off the near post. The Welshman worked well with Karim Benzema to create space and nearly caught Juan Carlos off-guard. The ball viciously skipped across the soaked blades of grass and had the shot been on target, it's unlikely the match would've been a comeback effort for Real.
Even though Rayo struck first, Real Madrid never seemed to give up hope, led by a manager who stripped off his jacket after his team conceded the second goal. Bale answered first off a corner and while his positioning, form and placement were spot on, he highlighted his focus with his post-goal celebration.
Bale picked the ball out of the net and signaled his teammates to meet him at center circle.
A brilliant goal that deserved celebration? Absolutely, however the former Spur knew the job wasn't done. If Real has any hope of winning La Liga, they'll need to win-out, a thought certainly on Bale's mind as he ignored the cheers and eagerly tried to restart play right away.
Lucas Vázquez equalized for Real Madrid early in the second half but again, one point didn't suffice for Los Blancos.
In the 81st minutes, Rayo's defense feel asleep for a split second and Bale haunted the back line. A misplaced pass near midfield found the Welshman who picked the ball up roughly 40 yards from goal. In just two touches, Bale sprinted 30 yards and again struck a shot that left Juan Carlos helpless.
Looking ahead towards Real Madrid's matchup with Manchester City, Zidane confirmed that Cristiano will join the team on the plane. Of course Los Blancos are even more dangerous with the No. 7 in the lineup, but Bale reassured everyone that the club is in good hands with all eyes on No. 11.