Bale crowned 'Prince of Goals' after first La Liga treble
By Iain Rogers
MADRID (Reuters) - 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. Continued...