Goals from the Brazilian and Alexis Sanchez rendered Jese Rodriguez’s late strike as nothing more than consolation, as Barcelona extended their Liga lead over Real Madrid to six points.
Despite injury concerns Bale was handed a starting place by Carlo Ancelotti, starting alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria in attack. Tata Martino opted to deploy Cesc Fabregas in an attacking position, flanked by Neymar and Lionel Messi.
Barcelona started the brighter of the two sides, with Neymar and Messi threatening the opposition goal in the early exchanges.
And Neymar broke the deadlock after 19 minutes, collecting the ball in the left corner of the opposition box before angling a low shot between the legs of Raphael Varane into the bottom corner of Diego Lopez’s net.
The home side could’ve doubled their advantage soon after when Messi was played through on goal. However, Pepe refused to give up on the chance and tracked back to apply enough pressure, forcing Messi’s shot wide of the target.
Real Madrid came close to restoring parity before the break but Sami Khedira saw his effort from close range saved magnificently by Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes.
Neymar came close to notching his second of the net after running on to Andres Iniesta’s long ball forward and smashing towards goal on the half-volley. But Lopez got his body behind the shot to save well.
Bale, who was booked and quiet throughout, was withdrawn for Karim Benzema in the 61st minute as the visitors attempted to claw their way back into the contest.
But Barcelona doubled their lead with just over 10 minutes remaining when Sanchez latched on to a long ball forward from the back and lobbed Lopez in the Real Madrid goal.
The Catalan side continued to come forward in the closing stages of the contest and Dani Alves could’ve added a third after dribbling towards goal from the wide-right position, nutmegging Ronaldo in the process. However, the angle was too tight as Lopez saved with his legs.
Real Madrid committed players to the counter attack and almost found the net when Khedira was released into the box by a clever freekick from Modric. But Valdes saved to maintain his clean sheet.
However, Real Madrid reduced the deficit when substitute Rodriguez squeezed a shot under Valdes on the counter attack in stoppage time. But the fightback came too late for Ancelotti’s side as Barca claimed a 2-1 win.