Gareth Bale scored a stunning goal for Real Madrid early in their match against Real Sociedad, but he was powerless to stop an impressive comeback from the hosts as Los Blancos fell 4-2 on Sunday.
Sergio Ramos had opened the score for the visitors and Bale added a second early, displaying some nifty footwork. However, an inability to defend crosses and set pieces came back to haunt Real.
Inigo Martinez pulled one back for the Basques before a brace from David Zurutuza gave Sociedad a surprise lead, and Carlos Vela blasted home from close range to add a fourth after he appeared to control the ball with his arm.
Bleacher Report UK shared this image of Bale, with the same shocked look on his face as his Real teammates:
2-0 down. 4-2 up. Real Sociedad > Real Madrid pic.twitter.com/KLNq3dBhbN— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) August 31, 2014
The match had started perfectly for Los Blancos, who were up by two goals inside of 11 minutes. Bale's piece of skill in particular was mighty impressive, nutmegging a defender and finishing expertly from inside the box.
Squawka has the Vine:
As shared by WhoScored.com, Bale's production for Real has been superb in La Liga:
Gareth Bale: Has now scored or assisted 28 goals in 29 La Liga appearances since the start of last season— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 31, 2014
The Upright's Robbie Dunne made a bold proclamation after seeing the goal:
Bale is going to win the balon d'Or.— Robbie Dunne (@bobdonadini) August 31, 2014
Former England striker Gary Lineker also shared his praise for the mercurial Welshman:
Just saw @GarethBale11 's goal. Sheer impudence and utter brilliance!— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 31, 2014
Real looked like they could score double-digit goals on the night, but gave the hosts too much space to fight their way back into the match. Four goals later, desperation struck. Carlo Ancelotti had limited attacking options available on the bench, and despite a late flurry of chances, Los Blancos couldn't find a way through the Basque wall.
Bale appeared to vanish in the second half, but he could hardly be blamed for the defensive collapse. The lack of a true holding midfielder really hurt the team, as shared by Bleacher Report's Tre Atkinson:
I said without a true DM in the Real Madrid XI that they would concede a lot and drop many points. Standing by that claim, it's clear.— Tre Atkinson (@TreAtkinson) August 31, 2014
Dunne believes this result will force Los Blancos to go back to the transfer market:
What this Real Madrid performance means is they have to go back I to the market. Exiting times tomorrow.— Robbie Dunne (@bobdonadini) August 31, 2014
As shared by WhoScored.com, conceding four or more goals truly is a rarity for Real:
Real Madrid: Have conceded 3+ goals in La Liga for just the second time in their last 29 matches (vs Barcelona March 2014)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 31, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo didn't feature for Los Blancos due to an injury, and Bale was unable to take over the mantle as the team's primary force in the attacking third. James Rodriguez is still looking for his best fit in the starting XI, and a lack of penetration became evident once Sociedad took the lead.
The Welsh international can't help the fact Real have problems dealing with crosses and ball-heavy midfielders, however, and this poor result can hardly be pinned on his performance.