Gareth Bale came off the bench to spark an International Champions Cup comeback as Real Madrid secured a penalty shootout victory over Arsenal after a 2-2 draw.
Few expected the Welsh winger to come off the bench after comments by Zinedine Zidane over the week suggesting his sale was imminent, but Bale was introduced at half time and turned the game around for the Spanish giants.
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Arsenal dominated the first half, with Alexandre Lacazette awarded a spot kick for a handball on the line by Nacho which saw the Real Madrid defender sent off. The French striker converted before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a second second 15 minutes later.
The Gunners were cruising, but the sending off of Sokratis Papastathopoulos changed things and gave Real Madrid a way back. Bale came off the bench and grabbed a goal after 56 minutes, prodding home after good play by Isco and Marco Asensio.
Asensio then grabbed the equaliser minutes later only to be stretchered off with an injury. The match went to a penalty shootout and despite Bale missing it was the La Liga outfit that emerged with the victory.

TALKING POINT - Will this force Zinedine Zidane into a rethink on Gareth Bale’s future?

It’s probable that Bale will still be sold in the coming days, with the Chinese Super League presumed to be the likeliest of destinations. But will this performance be enough to force Zidane into one last rethink? Bale was the best player on the pitch when he came off the bench, giving Real Madrid a completely different dimension in the final third. Why are they selling him? Does anyone have an answer?

MAN OF THE MATCH - Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

He was in more than one sense the Man of the Match. Bale made this game his own by unexpectedly coming off the bench to make what will surely be one last appearance for Real Madrid, but more than that he electrified his struggling team and turned the game around. The only thing that was missing from the Welshman’s 45-minute performance was a winner, and that wasn’t for a lack of trying.


Real Madrid - Navas 6, Carvajal 4, Ramos 5, Nacho 3, Mendy 6, Kroos 7, Modric 7, Hazard 5, Vazquez 4, Jovic 3, Benzema 5. Subs - Varane 6, Bale 8, Courtois 6, Isco 7, Marcelo 6, Odriozola 6, Vinicius 6, De La Fuente 5, Fidalgo 5.
Arsenal - Martinez 7, Jenkinson 6, Chambers 6, Sokratis 4, Kolasinac 5, Willock 6, Xhaka 5, Aubameyang 7, Ozil 6, Mkhitaryan 6, Lacazette 7. Subs - Nelson 6, Monreal 5, Burton 5, Saka 5, Nketiah 4.


LATE CHANGE! Maitland-Niles appears to have picked up a calf injury in the warm up and so Emery has been forced into a late change to his team. Jenkinson comes in as his replacement.
9’ PENALTY KICK TO ARSENAL! Lacazette rounds the goalkeeper and Nacho handles on the line. The referee points to the spot.
10’ SENT OFF! After some deliberation the referee has shown Nacho a red card for that handball on the line. That is the correct decision by the law, but come on... this is pre-season!
10’ GOAL! Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal: It's an early lead for the Gunners who now find themselves a goal and a man to the good! Lacazette managed to hit both posts with his penalty kick, but it just about crosses the line and Arsenal have the advantage in this match.
25’ GOAL! Real Madrid 0-2 Arsenal: It's a second goal for the Gunners! They are in complete control of this match. Lacazette's little flick set Aubameyang through on goal, he rounded Navas and then found the back of the net despite the best efforts of Ramos to clear on the line.
41’ SENT OFF! The referee has shown Sokratis a second yellow card for a foul on Modric. Does he know that this is a friendly match? It's 10 men against 10 now! What a crazy decision.
45’ Off the post! That's the closest Real Madrid have come to finding the net. Benzema gets on the end of a cross, but his header down into the ground comes off the outside of the post. Getting closer since the sending off.
45’ Bale is on! It seemed unlikely that we would ever see Bale in a Real Madrid shirt again after the events of the last week, but he has been thrown on for the second half. Can he make a difference one last time?
53’ Smashed off the woodwork! Inches away from a stunner from Asensio. He took aim from 20 yards out, he beat Martinez, but saw his effort come off the post. Varane then shoots over.
56’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-2 Arsenal: Bale has scored in what will surely be his final appearance for Real Madrid! Marcelo's reverse pass released Isco, then Asensio had a shot smothered by Martinez. Bale was on hand to prod into the back of the empty net, though.
59’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-2 Arsenal: Asensio came on at half time and he has scored the equaliser fo Real Madrid! That was a lovely move. Asensio passed Marcelo down the left side, the pass was then played back to him and he lashed a finish into the back of the net!
63’ Asensio injury! Oh dear. This doesn't look good for the Real Madrid player. Asensio collided with Aubameyang and now he is being stretchered off in tears. Could that he a knee injury?
73’ Off the line! It's Bale up one end and Bale down the other end! After a bit of a scramble inside the box Chambers gets a shot away, it was heading in, but the Welshman was back on the line to clear.
87’ Massive chance! That was the moment for Arsenal to win this match. Nketiah was played clean in on goal, Courtois stayed rather than coming out, but the Belgian smothered the effort.
88’ Another Nketiah chance! The young striker has been excellent in pre-season so far, but he should have scored there as well. He glanced a header wide of the far post with the goal gaping.
PENALTY SAVED! Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal: It's Bale who takes the first spot kick for Real Madrid, but it's a poor one and Martinez makes the save.
PENALTY SCORED! Real Madrid 3-2 Arsenal: That wasn't a good penalty from Vinicius, but he squeezes his finish past Martinez.
PENALTY MISSED! Burton blasts his effort well over the crossbar and Real Madrid win the penalty shootout 3-2!
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15/09/2021 AT 18:05