VALENCIA - Gareth Bale hailed a "perfect night" after his stunning winner for Real Madrid against Barcelona in Wednesday's King's Cup final, his first trophy since moving to Spain for a record fee in the close season.
The Wales winger sprinted from the halfway line into the penalty area five minutes from time at the Mestalla in Valencia before slipping the ball brilliantly between the legs of Barca goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto to seal a 2-1 victory.
After a season disrupted by a series of niggling injuries when many questioned his world-record price of 100 million euros (S$173 million), it was the perfect way to reward Real's efforts in engineering his move from English Premier League side Tottenham.
"It was a perfect night," Bale, 24, told reporters. "It is great to win trophies and I am very happy to have won my first title with Real Madrid.
"This victory was for the fans for all the support they have given us, the atmosphere was fantastic."
Real are in with a chance of winning a rare treble of La Liga, Champions League and King's Cup this season and Bale said he was confident the team were capable of winning at least one more trophy.
His goal showcased his physical prowess as he left Marc Bartra, who headed Barca's 68th-minute equaliser after Angel di Maria had opened the scoring in the 11th, for dead before homing in on goal.
Barcelona's painful reversal brings to an end a hellish week and leaves them facing their first season without major silverware in six years.
A week ago, they were well placed to repeat their record treble of La Liga, Champions League and King's Cup from 2008-09 but are now likely to end the campaign with nothing more than the season-opening Spanish Super Cup.
They were dumped out of Europe's elite club competition by Atletico Madrid last Wednesday and crashed to a shock 1-0 La Liga defeat at Granada on Saturday that left them four points behind leaders Atletico, with five games remaining.
Coach Gerardo Martino said he was "in profound pain because of the defeat" but his immediate task is to lift the players for the La Liga finale, starting with Sunday's match at home to fourth-placed Bilbao.
"It has been a very hard week for us on all fronts but we have to pick ourselves up and keep aspiring to what we have left," Martino said. "We have to find the strength where it is now scarce. The league is not going in our favour but we have to fight to the end because we have a right to, that's what the maths says."