Gareth Bale “radiated positivity” in Real Madrid’s 3-0 Copa del Rey win against Numancia, boss Zinedine Zidane said.
The 28-year-old scored in his first start since September in a season hampered by injury, but got the side’s opening goal from the penalty spot after 35 minutes.
Isco and Borja Mayoral also found the net, with the second leg of the last 16 tie to be played on January 10.
Zidane said on realmadrid.com: “Bale’s start to the game was exceptional and he really radiated positivity.
“He played for an hour and I thought he looked to be in good shape. We are happy and want to keep moving forward.
“The idea is to get some continuity in the side. It is his first game playing from the start and playing for an hour.
“We need to keep on in this manner and get into a rhythm with him.”
Real Madrid – currently fourth in LaLiga, 14 points behind leaders Barcelona – initially came up against strong opposition from Numancia, fifth in the second division and a side which have not lost since November.
Zidane said: “We picked up a good result at a difficult ground, against a team who fight hard and played well. I’m happy with the result because winning 0-3 here is not easy.
“In the second half we had some difficult spells, but we’re happy overall, particularly with the first half.
“This is exactly the team I expected to come up against, battling and running their hearts out, with the fans roaring their players on. But I’ll focus on the result and my players’ good performance.”