Santiago Solari Downplays Gareth Bale's Goal Celebration Snub vs. Levante

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2019

VALENCIA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF celebrates his side's second goal during the La Liga match between Levante UD and Real Madrid CF at Ciutat de Valencia on February 24, 2019 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images)
David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images

Gareth Bale can celebrate "as he wishes," Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said after the Welshman's subdued reaction following his penalty winner at Levante on Sunday evening. 

Bale came off the bench to replace Karim Benzema—who converted their first spot-kick—and scored a few minutes later. Solari said his star was "euphoric" in the dressing room after the 2-1 win, avoiding the question regarding Bale's happiness at the club, via Goal:

Per Jose Luis Calderon of Marca, Solari added: "You have more eyes. What I saw is how he worked and how he played on the pitch. He gave us the win, he got the goal and can celebrate it as he wishes."

Los Blancos won at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia following a controversial penalty decision from the video assistant referee. 

The visiting team were given two penalties via VAR, with the first a handball inside the area. The second—given for a foul on Casemiro—was far more questionable.

Bale, 29, stepped up to take the resulting penalty, and Eleven Sports commentator Graham Hunter suggested his tactics won't be new to those at the Santiago Bernabeu:

AS journalist Alfredo Relano wrote that Bale—referred to as the "pet" of president Florentino Perez—had shown a "deplorable attitude" in refusing team-mate Lucas Vazquez's congratulations after scoring.

The winger hasn't played a full 90 minutes in La Liga since Real lost 3-0 at Eibar on November 24. He's come off the bench in four of his last five league appearances and has scored in three of those substitute displays.

Spanish football writer Simon Harrison suggested that by drawing attention to himself in this manner, Bale will only exacerbate the scrutiny he's under from parts of the Spanish media and disgruntled fans:

The win was enough to keep Real third in La Liga and within two points of rivals Atletico. Solari's side could still challenge for two titles this season as they prepare to host Barcelona in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday.

It's unsurprising the manager was eager to discuss Sunday's positives rather than any perceived controversy: "We played a good match and could have scored earlier, [then] the win would have been more comfortable."

Vinicius Junior started at Barcelona in their 1-1 first-leg draw, but Bale will hope he can reclaim his place in the XI for Wednesday as Los Blancos look to reach their first Copa del Rey final in five years.

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