By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Gareth Bale apologised for getting sent off in Real Madrid's 3-3 draw at home to Las Palmas on Wednesday, which saw Real drop off the top of the La Liga table, but he said his actions did not warrant a dismissal.
Bale kicked out against Las Palmas striker Jonathan Viera early in the second half, for which he was booked, and then pushed his opponent, earning a second yellow.
It was Bale's second career red card and his first in Spain, suspending him for Saturday's trip to Eibar.
Real initially suffered in Bale's absence and conceded two goals, but they managed to fight their way back to clinch a point thanks to two late strikes from top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo They still gave up the top spot to Barcelona.
Real trail Barca by a point but have one game in hand.
"I don't believe that it was deserving of a red card," Bale said on Real's official website. "I was shown the yellow for the foul, I was then pushed and I just pushed him back.
"I want to apologise to the team and the fans. I hope to learn from my mistake".
Real defender Marcelo struggled to hide his frustration at the usually mild mannered Bale's moment of madness, but he said the team would not berate the Wales international for the incident.
"I'm not the one who needs to give him a clip around the ears. That's what I do to my children," Marcelo told reporters. "Bale is old enough to know if he has done something wrong and that's it, we're with him.
"These things happen in football, but I hope it doesn't happen again until the end of the season."
Marcelo praised the team's fighting spirit after another comeback, following last week's 3-2 win at Villarreal from two goals down, but said they could not afford to keep putting out fires.
"It was difficult once again. We need to improve a lot of things and we will keep giving a response," he said. "Before the game we talked about things that we needed to avoid doing, but we keep doing them."
Real coach Zinedine Zidane tried to deflect blame from Bale and pointed out that the team had managed to turn things around without him.
"He said sorry, he's not happy with the red card, but it's over now. These things happen and we can't chance it, but with 10 men we still managed to equalise," Zidane told reporters.
"We can be angry with the first half but we made a tremendous effort in the second half. We have to keep going. We're all on the same ship and we're going to turn this around."
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Larry King)