Pitchside

Has blundering Gareth Bale cost Real Madrid the Liga title?

Pitchside

Talk about going missing in a big game - Gareth Bale was nowhere to be seen as Real Madrid slumped to a second big defeat in four days.

The Welshman was off the pitch changing his boots when Sevilla scored the winner in a 2-1 victory that leaves Real Madrid's title challenge hanging by a thread.

[SEVILLA 2-1 REAL MADRID: AS IT HAPPENED]

The Spanish press offered a scathing assessment of his performance, in particular the length of time it took him to tie his laces.

Reflecting on Bale's "calamitous night", AS noted that Bale left the pitch 79 seconds before Sevilla's second goal went in and didn't return until the kick-off, an absence of nearly two minutes.

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Later, with Real frantically chasing the game, Bale cheekily took a late free-kick Cristiano Ronaldo had his eye on, only to blast it aimlessly into the crowd. Ronaldo's incredulous reaction said it all.

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£86 million Bale was a major disappointment on Sunday as Real Madrid lost 4-3 at home to Barcelona - but had a chance to put things right on Wednesday against Sevilla.

[MATCH REPORT: SEVILLA DEAL BLOW TO REAL MADRID TITLE BID]

But on a night when you would expect your biggest stars to rise to the occasion, Bale contributed to a disastrous defeat, which leaves them trailing both Barca and Atletico Madrid as the season reaches its climax.

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