GARETH BALE came within a whisker of claiming the glory after Real Madrid fans turned the jeers to cheers in a Champions League thriller against Paris Saint-Germain.
Bale was jeered by sections of his own supporters in the league win over Real Sociedad last week, following the outcry over his flag celebrations while on international duty.
The forward smiled holding a banner which said “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order”, much to the fury of sections of the media in Spain.
But when he came on as sub for the injured Eden Hazard at the Bernabeu, only applause could be heard from the stands – and more clapping followed every time Bale touched the ball.
And the 30-year-old almost repaid them in style with a 25-yard free-kick that cannoned back off the post with Keylor Navas beaten.
That was the last kick of an amazing match which saw Real produce their best display for months to go two goals up – only for PSG to hit back and snatch a draw.
It even saw a bizarre moment when Thibaut Courtios was sent off for a professional foul, only for a VAR penalty check to overturn the decision because of a foul the other way – and mean his red card was immediately rescinded.
Real took the lead om 17 minutes when Karim Benzema slotted home into an empty net after Isco had seen his shot rebound off the foot of the left-hand post.
Zinedine Zidane’s side created a series of chances that went begging before Benzema added his second on 79 minutes which should have killed the game off.
But within five minutes PSG had struck twice to draw back level as Real contrived to throw away all their hard work.
First a mix-up between Raphael Varane and Courtois gifted Kylian Mbappe an open goal just 86 seconds after Benzema’s second.
Then within three minutes Pablo Sarabia drilled a thunderbolt into the top corner to leave Real hanging on.
Mbappe might have stolen the win in the last minute but his effort rolled inches the wrong side of the post with Courtois beaten.
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Then came the dramatic free-kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time which saw Bale go so close to winning the game.
But there was concern for Real with the sight of Eden Hazard limping away in agony after a strong challenge by his Belgium team-mate Thomas Meunier.
Real will now anxiously wait to see the extent of the problem, which looked to be a painful blow to the top of his right foot.