Gareth Bale ended a three-month goal drought in La Liga to give Real Madrid a nervy 1-0 win away to basement club Huesca on Sunday, taking his side back into the top four at the expense of Alaves.
The Wales forward, who had not found the net in the league since Sept. 1 but had scored in the Champions League, gave Real an ideal start by volleying home a cross from Alvaro Odriozola in the eighth minute.
Huesca, bottom of the table with a meagre seven points and without a win since the opening day of the season, did not lay down against the European champions though, and it took a flying save from Thibaut Courtois to prevent Ezequiel Avila levelling soon afterwards.
Bale was denied another goal in the second half by Huesca’s keeper and the home side laid siege to Real’s area in the final stages but fell short of an equaliser as Courtois tipped a dangerous free kick over the bar in stoppage time and Dani Carvajal made a frantic clearance.
Real’s eighth win in nine games in all competitions under coach Santiago Solari saw them climb above Alaves into fourth in the standings on 26 points after 15 games, five behind leaders Barcelona.
It was a marked improvement from Real’s dire form earlier in the campaign which saw the club dispense with coach Julen Lopetegui but Real are still struggling to dominate games, even against seemingly weak opposition such as Huesca.
They have made significant advances in defence, though, and this was their sixth clean sheet under Argentine Solari.
Courtois admitted his side had performed badly, particularly after the break.
“In the first half we played well, we controlled the game and we did things the right way,” he said.
“In the second half it was complicated, we had the wind against us and it was difficult to play properly; we did almost nothing in the second half.”
Solari, though, praised his side for digging in and seeing out the result.
“We knew how to defend our goal until the end,” added the coach.
“Bale scored a great goal which earned us the three points, as did the team’s character. If we want to compete for La Liga we have to win these type of matches too.”