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Bale Double As Real Beat Levante

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Gareth Bale scored his first goals in 10 matches as Real Madrid kept pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a win over Levante.

Bale opened the scoring by powering home a loose ball in the box, after Cristiano Ronaldo's acrobatic effort was saved.

The Welshman added his second by diverting Ronaldo's low driven shot, which appeared to be going wide.

Real trail leaders Barca, who beat Eibar 2-0 on Saturday, by one point.

Bale's last goal for Real came in a 2-1 victory over Cordoba in January, and the £85m world-record signing had been singled out for criticism in the Spanish press.

On Friday, influential sports daily Marca published a full-page analysis of the Welsh international's recent performances, with Bale described as “absent, lost and identifying little with the cause”.

The former Tottenham winger was visibly relieved after reacting quickest to put Real ahead with a powerful right-foot strike.

Real went into the game trailing Barcelona by four points, having allowed their rivals to overtake them by claiming just two points from their last two games.

The home side should have scored more than twice, with Ronaldo especially culpable of wasting chances.

It was the Portuguese, a frustrated figure for much of the encounter, whose shot allowed Bale to turn in Real's second goal before half-time.

Although there was at first confusion as to whether Bale got a touch, replays showed Ronaldo's effort was going wide, with the Welshman providing the faintest but most crucial of deflections.

Barca and Real meet in next Sunday's El Clasico at the Nou Camp, a 20:00 GMT kick-off.