Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was now looking for “regular games” from Gareth Bale after the player was absent for four months from injury.
Bale, 28, marked his first start in four months with a converted penalty in Thursday’s 3-0 Copa del Rey last 16 first leg win at Segunda side Numancia.
When Lucas Vazquez was tripped in the area near the hour mark — after Numancia had their own penalty claim turned down — Bale grabbed the ball and calmly slid home the spot kick.
After Numancia midfielder Pape Diamanka deservedly picked up a second yellow soon after half-time, Madrid sealed the win late on with a late penalty again won by Lucas Vazquez and converted by substitute Isco, and an added time far post header by Borja Mayoral.
Although by that stage Bale had been substituted, he presumably will start in Madrid’s La Liga trip to Celta Vigo on Sunday evening.
“It was important to see how [Bale] felt,” Zidane told the post-game news conference.
“In the end he played an hour, without problems, feeling physically well. He had played four games with 20 or 30 minutes [off the bench], this was his first start. So we will continue like this. We want him to play regularly now.”
Although a team including mostly youngsters and squad players did not really sparkle, Zidane said he was happy with how the game had gone.
“I am very happy as we got a good result in the end,” he added. “This was not an easy place to come, they have been playing well and made it tough for us, but we got a good result.”
“Many of these are players who do not play so often. In the second half we had some problems, above all when they were down to 10. But in general I am happy. We managed to get three goals, kept a clean sheet, so I am happy for those who played.”