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Bale: Real Madrid's Solari getting best out forward in front of goal

Bale: Real Madrid's Solari getting best out forward in front of goal

REUTERS

Gareth Bale's hat-trick against Kashima Antlers left the Madrid forward with an average of a goal every 111 minutes under Santiago Solari.

Santiago Solari has looked to spur Gareth Bale on right from his opening press conference as Real Madrid coach, and the Welshman has responded.

"Gareth has eaten up everything today"

In Wednesday's Club World Cup semi-final win over Kashima Antlers, Bale delivered a whirlwind attacking display, hitting a hat-trick that leaves him just one goal shy of the seven boasted by the tournament's all-time top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Solari had told the ex-Southampton and Tottenham man to go out and "eat up the pitch" last month, and could not hide his delight after watching the forward do just that in Abu Dhabi. "Gareth has eaten up everything today," he purred.

Bale registering best ever goal average under Solari

Solari is getting the best out of Bale in front of goal: since the Argentine took over at the Bernabéu, the 29-year-old has netted six in 668 minutes - a scoring average, one every 111 minutes, that he has not matched under any previous club coach.

None of Julen Lopetegui (one every 232 minutes), Zinedine Zidane (139), Rafa Benítez (127), Carlo Ancelotti (188), André Villas-Boas (149), Harry Redknapp (410), Juande Ramos (no goals), Martin Jol (189) or George Burley (776) got the same strike rate from the 'Cardiff Express'.

Solari with Bale after the Real Madrid man's hat-trick against Kashima Antlers.

Bale: a player who comes alive when trophies at stake

Bale would not be drawn into responding to his critics as he picked up his 'man of the match' award, an accolade that once more underlined that the big occasions - particularly when silverware is up for grabs - bring out the best in him.

On Saturday, Al Ain will be up against an attacker who has got the scent of blood.