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Real benefiting from focus on defence

Spanish Primera Division
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Bale: UCL triumph validates move

Real Madrid hero Gareth Bale believes winning the Champions League proves he was right to force through his move to the Spanish giants from Tottenham Hotspur last year.

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"It's amazing," he said, having scored the 110th-minute goal that took Real into the lead against Atletico that led them on to a 4-1 win. "It's the reason I joined Real Madrid, to play in competitions like this and be able to win them. For me it is a dream come true."

Bale, who cost a reported 100 million euros in a deal that took until the final day of last summer's transfer window to complete, missed three good chances in the final in Lisbon's Estadio da Luz, including a first-half effort that would have given Real the lead.

As it was, they had to fight until the 93rd minute to cancel out Diego Godin's 38th-minute strike when Sergio Ramos headed home from a corner.

"Sometimes you don't get the rub of the green but you have to keep persisting, keep going and you may get that chance that will make the difference," Bale told reporters. "Thankfully I was able to get that chance and I was able to take it." 

His goal, an angled header after Thibaut Courtois had denied Angel Di Maria, was the moment that Real's 10th European crown was won, and their contingent in Lisbon celebrated accordingly.

"It's hard to describe what it felt like," Bale said. "Seeing all the fans and all the players run over it was an amazing feeling."

The Lisbon goal follows Bale's superb solo winner in this season's Copa del Rey final win against Barcelona.

"It has been great. But not just to score the goals but to work hard for the team and to get the trophies that we deserved," he said. "We are all happy and just want to enjoy it."

Cristiano Ronaldo, who later scored a penalty to make him the first player to score in a Champions League final for different clubs, was first over to congratulate Bale, who was brought in last August.

"We work well on the pitch together," said Bale of his partnership with the Portuguese forward. "We are enjoying playing our football, the whole team. Anybody will tell you no matter who scores the goals we are all happy to win trophies. He obviously got on the scoresheet tonight and that was important for us.

"I felt that when we got the equaliser we had the momentum going into extra time and we looked a bit fresher. They had a few players who had cramps and stuff. We showed what a good physical condition we are in and thankfully got the job done."

Real assistant coach Paul Clement, the Englishman who accompanied Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti to Madrid after working with him at PSG and Chelsea, praised Bale's determination and the crucial contribution of Ramos.

"We were both very happy and the only thing I needed to say to him was 'well done'," Clement revealed of his immediate post-match conversation with Bale. "He's had a terrific first season for us, unbelievable. The sort of stuff that dreams are made of.

"In normal time, over the 90 minutes, he probably had the best chances. But it was a wonderful moment at the back post in extra time and credit to his fitness and that physical stature he's got. It's just been a great first year for Gareth."

Clement admitted his own fears that Saturday would not be Real's night. As the clock ticked into injury time, it seemed Atletico could hold off their cross-town rivals.

"As soon as it goes into time added on, you're not sure it's going to happen," Clement said. "But that little moment of quality, a good cross and a fantastic finish from Ramos, who was outstanding, a real top, top player. He's been brilliant in the last couple of months, especially attacking, and in the Champions League semifinal and now the final, he was wonderful in all three matches."

In extra time, Real pushed for a winner, but had already made their preparations for a penalty shootout when Bale scored.

"I'd written the list out of the penalty takers," said Clement. "You have to prepare for all eventualities. But I'll keep the names to myself."


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