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Wednesday 7 December 2016

'I was unlucky not to score': Gareth Bale defends form as Juventus shock Madrid

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale reacts during the Champions League second leg semi-final match between Real Madrid and Juventus, at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale reacts during the Champions League second leg semi-final match between Real Madrid and Juventus, at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid

Gareth Bale defended his form after missing a string of chances as Real Madrid lost to Juventus on aggregate in the Champions League semi-final.

Bale has come in for repeated criticism in Spain and the boo-boys were out again in the second half of Wednesday's 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital as Bale missed several opportunities - five in the second half alone.

The result saw Madrid's defence of their European crown end with a 3-2 aggregate defeat but, while disappointed, Bale defended his own role.

"There have been some ups and downs but personally I think I've played well," he told Sky Sports of his season. "I've maybe not scored as many important chances as I'd like but my general play has been good. My finishing is not as good and that's something to work on for next year.

"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger and I'll learn from this season and take it on."

Bale had Madrid's first chance of the night, heading over after just 35 seconds, and then five in the second half but never managed to test Gianluigi Buffon with a shot on target.

"I was unlucky not to grab one," he said. "As long as I keep trying, usually one goes in. Unfortunately it didn't happen tonight and you move on."

His best chance was a back-post header which he sent over from point-blank range.

"I got a slight touch (from a defender) and I couldn't get over the ball," he said. "It's one of those things that happen in football and you move on."

The result denies Madrid the chance to take on arch-rivals Barcelona in the final in Berlin after their victory over Bayern Munich in the other semi-final, although it does throw up an intriguing reunion for Barca forward Luis Suarez with Juve's Patrice Evra and Giorgio Chiellini.

Suarez was banned for eight matches in England for racially abusing Evra while at Liverpool, and then earned a four-month global ban for biting Chiellini during last summer's World Cup.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri was not concerning himself with such matters after the match as he celebrated victory.

"I have to congratulate the boys, it is a big night for them and for all Italian football," Allegri said on the Juventus website. "I realise that this season is really great."

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti now appears to be on borrowed time at the club with the league title all but lost to rivals Barcelona, who have a four-point advantage with two matches to go, but the Italian was not interested in talking about his future.

"Today to talk about the future does not make much sense," he said. "We have two league games and we must try to close the season the best way we can by winning them. Then we will meet and discuss the future."

In comments reported by Marca, he added: "If the club is happy with the work I have done in two years, I can continue. If they are not happy, they have to make a decision. I want to stay here, but I know how it works in football."

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