Gareth Bale kept Real Madrid's title hopes alive (AP).

Gareth Bale comes to Real Madrid's rescue in narrow win over Real Sociedad

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Gareth Bale was Real Madrid's hero for the second week running as the Wales international headed home the only goal in a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad late on to keep his side in the Primera Division title race.

The former Tottenham forward nodded in Lucas Vazquez's cross with 10 minutes remaining to decide a tense game at Anoeta against a Sociedad side who had beaten Barcelona earlier in the month.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were still injured for Madrid and, with the Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City looming next Wednesday, Zidane rested Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Jese, Pepe and Toni Kroos.

James Rodriguez returned to the starting line-up, while Borja Mayoral started up front, with Bale and Lucas Vazquez either side of him.

With Ronaldo and Benzema absent, the responsibility again fell on Bale's shoulders to lead Madrid's attack, which he did so well against Rayo Vallecano last week, scoring the first and last goals in a 3-2 win.

He latched onto a through ball from James in the fourth minute but screwed his shot wide with his right foot.

Bale combined again with the Colombian later in the half, glancing a cross wide of the near post, while Sergio Ramos also sent a header narrowly wide.

The centre-back will, however, miss next week's game with Valencia through suspension after picking up another booking.

La Real had taken a back seat in the first half but nearly took the lead on the stroke of half-time, Joseba Zaldua firing just wide of the near post.

Madrid's best chance of the game arrived shortly before the half hour mark.

James' cross was partially cleared and Bale slammed the loose ball towards goal, but Geronimo Rulli stuck out his right foot to block it.

Madrid kept hammering on the door however and were rewarded in the 80th minute when Vazquez got down the right to cross and Bale appeared at the near post to finally head past Rulli.

It was Bale's 19th goal of the season in the league and his ninth header, more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

There was a nervy final few minutes for Madrid, however, and it took a low dive from Keylor Navas to prevent David Zurutuza from grabbing an injury time equaliser.

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