Real Madrid end season with damning defeat and Bale again stewing on bench

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  • Gareth Bale an unused sub as Real Madrid suffer final-day defeat
    • Loren and Jesé give Real Betis a 2-0 win at the Bernabeu

Press Association

Loren Morón and Jesé teamed up to hand Real Betis a famous victory at the Bernabéu as Real Madrid’s disappointing season ended with a whimper.

It was a deserved 2-0 win for the visitors on a day when Gareth Bale did not make it off the bench amid continuing speculation that he could be one of the casualties of a major overhaul by Zinedine Zidane this summer.

Zidane, who returned to the Bernabeu to replace Santiago Solari in March, pulled no punches in his assessment of the campaign, with the Bale issue a key topic.

The Wales forward has found himself at the centre of increased speculation in recent weeks, and his displeasure with the situation was clear as headed straight down the tunnel instead of joining his teammates for an end-of-season lap of honour.

“I don’t know what will happen,” Zidane said. “I’ve called upon other players lately. I’m making decisions about who plays and who is on the bench, but next year anything can happen.

“Today he didn’t play because others have come in. I’m sorry that he didn’t get minutes today, but next year who knows what will happen? I have to take decisions and when I don’t like things or something doesn’t seem right, I have to change them. Nobody is going to change what the player has done at this club but day to day, it is like that. We live in the present, although we will not forget the past.”

 Zidane’s men, who started the day 18 points adrift of Barcelona and eight behind Atlético Madrid, were ultimately well beaten as their La Liga campaign drew to a close with a third defeat in four games.

Madrid started in positive mood with Vinícius Júnior very nearly catching Pau López in possession early on as he gave the home fans early encouragement before Keylor Navas had to tip over Marc Bartra’s swerving 28th-minute drive as play switched rapidly from end to end.

Karim Benzema passed up a glorious opportunity to fire Madrid ahead when he latched on to Francisco Guerrero’s ill-judged 33rd-minute pass only to hit a post, with Pau saving Federico Valverde’s well-struck follow-up.

However, Navas’s fingertips came to the rescue at the other end seconds later after Giovani Lo Celso had attempted to lob him and the first half finished goalless.

After half-time, Vinícius was denied by Pau at his near post after turning brilliantly past Aissa Mandi into space with 57 minutes gone, and it was the visitors who took the lead within four minutes when Andrés Guardado found space on the left and his cross was perfectly weighted for Loren to fire home.

Navas had to save acrobatically again from Lo Celso, who later curled a shot just wide of the far post with the keeper beaten as Betis looked to increase their advantage.

They did just that with 15 minutes remaining when substitute Jesé – who came through the academy at Real Madrid – was left unmarked in the box to latch on to Junior Firpo’s pull-back and smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Lionel Messi struck twice for Barcelona as the title-winners were held to a 2-2 draw at Eibar in their final league game of the season.

Eibar took the lead through Marc Cucurella, before Messi fired back with two goals in two minutes to put Barcelona ahead.

In a game with plenty of chances, Eibar equalised on the stroke of half-time as Pablo de Blasis’s incredible volley ensured the points were shared.

Barcelona will look to end their season on a high in the Copa del Rey final against Valencia on Saturday as they attempt to complete the domestic double.

 

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