Soccer

Bale says concerns over health exaggerated

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MADRID (AP)

Gareth Bale says speculation concerning his health following his record 100 million euros transfer to Real Madrid has been ''blown out of proportion massively.''

Bale went on late to help Madrid beat Malaga 2-0 on Saturday, making his fourth appearance in eight possible matches after recovering from his second leg injury since his blockbuster move this summer.

''It's nice to get over the little injury I had,'' Bale said. ''It's been difficult getting back obviously after not having a preseason. It's great to get back on the pitch, get a few minutes under my belt, and make a good impact.''

The Wales winger went on with 15 minutes to play and earned a questionable penalty after a brush with Malaga defender Weligton. Cristiano Ronaldo converted the spot kick in injury time to double the lead established by Angel Di Maria.

Bale's most recent absence due to a sore left hamstring led to sports daily Marca publishing that he had a back hernia that could require surgery. Madrid responded that this was false, instead saying that Bale had a ''disc bulge'' that wouldn't affect his ability to play.

Bale didn't mention his suddenly infamous back after Saturday's win.

''It was just a little thigh strain,'' Bale said. ''I think the fact that I haven't had a lot of game time and preseason games or training or running, you always pick up little niggles. I think everything was blown out of proportion massively.''

Madrid's drawn-out negotiations with Tottenham that lasted to the end of the transfer window meant that Bale was kept from training this summer with his new club.

''I have to take it one step at a time,'' Bale said. ''I haven't had too much training or games. It's all about building me up now. Obviously, I will do what the manager says, but I need to introduce myself and prepare myself right now for the rest of the season.''

Madrid hosts Juventus on Wednesday in a highly anticipated Champions League match with the Italian champion. Madrid then travels to play at fierce rival Barcelona next weekend in what will be Bale's first clasico.

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