Rayo Vallecano threw away a 2-0 lead as Real Madrid fought back to win 3-2 and go to the top of La Liga in the process.
Adri Embarba and Miku put the hosts 2-0 up inside the opening 15 minutes, but a Bale brace along with a strike from super-sub Lucas Vazquez saw them take all three points.
Real Madrid were forced to start the match without Cristiano Ronaldo who had a thigh injury, but Gareth Bale was deemed fit and took his place in the eleven.
Rayo Vallecano made two changes from their 1-1 draw with Malaga on Wednesday, as Man Utd flop Bebe and Aston Villa loanee Jose Angel Crespo both came into the side.
The home side stunned their more illustrious opponents when Adri Embarba fired them ahead inside eight minutes. The goal was entirely Bebe’s making; he powered down the left flank, beat a couple of opponents, and executed a perfect cut-back for Embarba to prod home.
Amazingly, it was 2-0 seven minutes later. Miku was the scorer, as he took advantage of Rafael Varane’s poor ahead after Madrid failed to deal with a corner.
Vallecano were on fire, and could have easily added another couple of goals. Embarba’s heavy touch allowed Keylor Navas to smother his one-on-one chance, and Bebe tested the Madrid stopper with a rasping 20-yard effort.
Real refused to lie down, however, and ten minutes before half-time they were back in the game. Gareth Bale was the man who got his name on the teamsheet, as he found himself woefully unmarked to nod in a Toni Kroos corner.
Possibly unsurprisingly, Madrid were level after seven minutes of the second half. Danilo picked out Lucas Vazquez with an inch-perfect cross from the right-wing, and the substitute made no mistake with his header.
Madrid could have taken the lead on the hour mark. Bale got free down the flank and put in another perfect cross, but Lucas Vazquez couldn’t quite get his foot on the ball and deflect it goal-bound.
Roberto Trashorras had an effort for Rayo Vallecano with 15 minutes to go, but Navas did well to hold the stinging drive.
The turnaround was complete nine minutes from the end. Adri Embarba went from hero to zero as his wayward pass in the midfield was picked up by Gareth Bale. The Welshman burst forward, beat a couple of players, and slotted past the helpless Juan Carlos.
The result means Madrid are top of La Liga for at least a couple of hours. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both play later today. Vallecano stay 16th, three points clear of the drop-zone.
Real Madrid’s next game is on Tuesday when they travel to Manchester City for the Champions League semi-final. Their next league game is against Real Sociedad next Saturday.
Rayo Vallecano’s next game is against Real’s city and title rivals, Atletico Madrid.