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Bale ‘Prince of Goals’ after La Liga hat-trick Sevilla pip Granada; Chievo thrash Livorno

MADRID, Dec 1, (Agencies): Real Madrid’s record signing Gareth Bale was hailed as the “Prince of Goals” after his hat-trick and assist in Saturday’s 4-0 La Liga win at home to Real Valladolid. With prolific Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo sidelined by injury, Bale stepped up to net his first treble since his 100 million-euro ($136 million) move from Tottenham Hotspur and coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested the Wales winger’s adaptation period was over. “He is in good shape, he is confident and he is a very important player for us,” Ancelotti told a news conference. “He performed very well today.” Bale’s pre-season preparations were disrupted by the protracted negotiations over his transfer and he then picked up a minor muscle strain but now appears to be back to full fitness and eager to impress the Real faithful.

Saturday’s haul was a so-called “perfect hat-trick” - a header and a goal scored with each foot - and was only the second La Liga treble by a Briton after Gary Lineker’s for Barcelona in 1987. Sports daily As acclaimed Bale on their front page on Sunday as “Prince of Wales” (Principe de Gales), while rival newspaper Marca went for the headline “Prince of Goals” (Principe de Goles). “It is always a pleasure to score but even more when you are able to score a hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu,” Bale told reporters after grabbing a match ball and soaking up a post-match ovation from the Real faithful. “I am very happy here,” added the 24-year-old. “I needed time to adapt after not having a proper pre-season but now I am improving. “I want to continue improving and working hard in the matches and in training and learn from the best like Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Bale still has some way to go to match Ronaldo’s incredible goal-scoring feats and the former Manchester United forward remains the undisputed king of the dressing room and a hero to the notoriously demanding Real fans. Meanwhile, Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca scored one goal and set up Kevin Gameiro’s late winner to help his side to a 2-1 win at Granada in the Spanish league on Sunday. Also, Rayo Vallecano forward Alberto Bueno scored his second goal in injury time to secure a 2-2 draw at last-place Real Betis. Bacca put Sevilla in front at Los Carmenes Stadium in the 23rd when he took a ball lost by Granada’s Jeison Murillo and used the outside edge of his right boot to curl an exquisite strike around goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez. Granada surged forward and Antonio Beto was called into action several times before Granada’s Yacine Brahimi finally beat the Sevilla goalkeeper from the penalty spot in the 61st after Daniel Carrico had handled in the area.

With the action flowing up and down the pitch, Gameiro went on in the 81st and Bacca headed on Beto’s goalkick for the French forward to drive past Fernandez three minutes from time. In his first season with Sevilla Bacca has scored seven goals in league play, including three in the team’s current run of three straight wins to remain in eighth place. Betis’s draw left it struggling in last place and winless in the last eight rounds while Rayo moved out of the relegation zone and into 17th. Defender Antonio Amaya headed Betis ahead in the 27th and Ruben Castro thumped the ball off the crossbar in the 51st as Betis dominated early on in Seville.

Bueno went on in the 23rd and leveled in the 52nd by poking in a rebound which Betis goalkeeper Guillermo Sara let fall in the six-yard box. Joan Verdu appeared to have restored Betis’ lead for good in the 82nd. But Bueno controlled Jonathan Viera’s lob with his right foot before firing home with his left one minute into stoppage time. “I’m just happy we could get the point,” Bueno said. “It’s normal that both sides showed some nerves being at the bottom. But I think both teams have what it takes to turn this around.”

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