Gareth Bale praised after helping Real Madrid reach last 16 of Copa del Rey
Wales international ended two-month injury lay-off with 28-minute cameo against Segunda B minnows Fuenlabrada
Last Updated: 29/11/17 10:05am
Zinedine Zidane has highlighted the importance of Gareth Bale's return to fitness ahead of a crucial run of games for Real Madrid.
The Wales international came off the bench for the final 28 minutes of Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Fuenlabrada in the Copa del Rey, ending more than two months on the sidelines.
Keylor Navas and Mateo Kovacic also returned from respective injury layoffs as Real progressed into the last 16 with a 4-2 aggregate victory.
And Zidane believes the return of key players could prove crucial in Real's attempts to bridge the eight-point gap to La Liga leaders Barcelona.
"I'm happy for Gareth, Keylor and Mateo because they've been out for a while," he said.
"They are important players and to see them ready for the coming games makes you happy."
Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno singled out Bale for praise after his cameo from the bench helped the European champions avoid an embarrassing cup upset.
Real were in danger of seeing their two-goal first-leg lead overturned at a sparsely-populated Bernabeu as the Segunda B leaders took a shock lead against a youthful home side.
However, the 62nd-minute introduction of Bale, making his first appearance after missing 11 games through injury, changed the course of the game.
He set up two goals for Borja Mayoral - the first with an exquisite cross with the outside of his left foot - to put Real ahead on the night and in the tie.
"Bale's cross (for Mayoral's first goal) will stay with me," Butragueno told AS. "It was the play of the game. It gives you an idea of the player that he is. Bale is decisive.
"He's been sidelined for a while and his entry was important for the development of the game. He was at ease and looked really dangerous.
"He has to be fundamental for everything that comes now."
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