Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to help Real Madrid open their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win over Apoel on Wednesday.
The breakthrough came on the counter-attack in the 12th minute as Isco ran past a series of defenders before laying the ball off to Bale, whose low cross through the box came perfectly to Ronaldo, who made the finish look easy.
Madrid were soon dealt a blow however, when Mateo Kovacic injured himself while passing and was replaced by Toni Kroos.
Ronaldo came close to adding a second goal in the 34th minute but couldn’t turn a sliding effort on target, and early in the second half came inches from scoring when his volley hit the crossbar and came down on the goalline.
The Portuguese star pleaded with the fourth official, though goal-line technology showed that only about half the ball had crossed the line.
But his second did come five minutes later after Roberto Lago was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box, and Ronaldo despatched the penalty.
Sergio Ramos added a third goal in the 61st minute after Bale’s header took a high deflection, and the defender adjusted his body to put the ball into the net with an overhead kick.
In the other game in Group A, Harry Kane scored twice and Tottenham withstood heavy pressure from Borussia Dortmund to win 3-1 at Wembley.
Son Heung-Min gave Spurs the lead inside four minutes after a counter-attack as he carried the ball from the side of the box, ran past Sokratis Papastathopoulos and beat Roman Burki at his near post.
Dortmund were able to equalize seven minutes later as Andriy Yarmolenko played a one-two with Shinji Kagawa before curling a first-timed shot into the far corner from outside the box.
But Tottenham needed just four minutes to restore their lead as Kane powered past two defenders, and with the referee playing advantage, scored from a similar angle to Min’s earlier strike.
Dortmund’s American youngster Chritian Pulisic came inches from turning in a cross in the 37th minute, then did put the ball in the net just before half-time, but the play had already been blown for offside.
The visitors were again aggrieved by the linesman after the break when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang volleyed home but was incorrectly ruled offside.
And soon after, Spurs widened their lead as Kane drifted away from Lukasz Piszczek but stayed onside and lashed a low shot under Burki.
There was a late setback for Spurs as Jan Vertonghen was sent off in stoppage time for an elbow to Mario Gotze.
Liverpool had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Sevilla in Group E on their return to the Champions League.
Sevilla took the lead after just five minutes when Dejan Lovren got his feet mixed up and failed to cut out Sergio Escudero’s pass across the six-yard box, and Wissam Ben Yedder was left completely unmarked to poke into the net.
Liverpool went looking for the equaliser straight away, and only had to wait until the 21st minute to find it. Alberto Moreno was the creator, cutting the ball back from the byline for Roberto Firmino to guide home with ease.
And the home side took the lead in the 37th minute through Mohamed Salah, the Egypt international winning the ball off Steven N’Zonzi just outside the area before seeing his shot deflect wildly off the heel of Simon Kjaer’s boot and leave goalkeeper Sergio Rico helpless.
Liverpool were awarded a penalty just before half-time, Nicolas Pareja dragging down Sadio Mane inside the area. But Firmino couldn’t make the most of it, as with Rico sent the wrong way he could only strike the ball against the post.
The second half had been short of incident, until Sevilla produced an equaliser in the 72nd minute. Luis Muriel fed Joaquin Correa on the edge of the box, who managed to take the ball in his stride and lift a shot past Loris Karius.
Jurgen Klopp immediately introduced Philippe Coutinho for his first appearance of the season after his summer transfer saga involving Barcelona, but the Brazil international could not inspire a winner.
In the other group game, Maribor and Spartak Moscow played out a 1-1 draw as a referee narrowly escaped being hit by a flare.
The nautical-style flare was fired from a sector packed with Spartak fans after around 15 minutes, landing in the centre of the pitch near German referee Deniz Aytekin, who briefly stopped play.
The opening goal came when home goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic failed to hold an effort from outside the box by Fernando, and Aleksandr Samedov pounced to fire into the roof of the net.
But Maribor found a leveller five minutes from time as Martin Kramaric burst forward to feed Damjan Bohar, who cut inside and curled a fine effort into the opposite corner.
John Stones scored a brace as Manchester City got their Group F campaign off to a perfect start with a 4-0 thrashing of Feyenoord at the De Kuip Stadion.
City wasted little time in taking the initial lead — Stones’ downward header from David Silva’s cross near the corner flag somehow squirting between Tonny Vilhena’s legs on the goal line in the second minute.
Sergio Aguero doubled their advantage eight minutes later. After fine play down the right side, Kyle Walker’s cross found the Argentina international, who expertly volleyed home past goalkeeper Brad Jones from just outside the six-yard box.
City then left the outcome in no doubt after 25 minutes through Gabriel Jesus, who had the easiest of finishes after Jones parried a lashed Benjamin Mendy shot from distance directly into the Brazilian’s path.
Stones then completed his brace in the 63rd minute with another header — this time rising above a Feyenoord defender and powering into the net.
In the group’s other match, Shakhtar Donetsk stunned Napoli 2-1 thanks to goals from Taison and Facundo Ferreyra.
Taison gave the hosts the lead on the quarter-hour with a neat left-footed finish from just inside the box. And Ferreyra added a second in the 58th minute — the Argentine striker racing onto the end of Taras Stepanenko’s majestic cross from the left touchline and bouncing his header into the roof of the net from close.
Arkadiusz Milik pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the 71st minute after Stepanenko was cautioned for a foul in the Shakhtar box. But Napoli could not muster an equaliser in Ukraine.
In Group G, last season’s semifinalists Monaco were held 1-1 by upstarts RB Leipzig at Red Bull Arena.
Emil Forsberg opened the scoring for the hosts on 32 minutes. Initiating a counter-attack down the left side, he selfishly ignored a wide-open teammate in the box before adroitly smashing his right-footed shot past a helpless Diego Benaglio at the near post.
The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as new signing Youri Tielemans answered for Monaco just two minutes later — the former Anderlecht midfielder seeing his initial header from close range well-saved by Peter Gulacsi before poking home the rebound with his left foot.
Besiktas started their Group G campaign with a 3-1 win away to Porto.
Last season’s Turkish champions opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Anderson Talisca headed home from close range from a Ricardo Quaresma cross.
But Besiktas would let Porto back into the match when Dusko Tosic smashed a header from a corner into his own net in the 21st minute.
The visitors weren’t down for long, however, retaking the lead in fine fashion in the 28th minute with a fantastic goal from Cenk Tosun, who cut in from the left side onto his right foot and fired an unstoppable shot from distance past Iker Casillas.
With time running down, Ryan Babel sealed the three points for Besiktas, firing a first-time shot from the centre of the penalty area from after a neat one-two with Alvaro Negredo.