Zinedine Zidane said Gareth Bale could be as important for Real Madrid as Cristiano Ronaldo after the Wales international scored the only goal of the game to beat Real Sociedad 1-0 and keep Madrid in the title race.
Bale's goal in the 80th minute was his 19th of the season, despite the fact he has struggled to stay fit for long periods since joining Madrid in 2013 and has made only 20 starts this season.
Although Ronaldo missed a third consecutive game due to a thigh injury, the Portuguese has a far better injury record than Bale and before his latest problem played all of Madrid's 34 league games and 10 Champions League matches.
With Ronaldo and Karim Benzema injured and still doubtful for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City, Bale may have to lead the line again for Madrid.
"Bale has had problems but he could be like Cristiano and play many games," Madrid coach Zidane told a press conference.
"It was great to see a player of his importance score a goal ahead of Wednesday. I'm happy for him. He's had a lot of injury problems but I'm very happy to see him play 90 minutes."
Zidane made five changes to the team that drew 0-0 with City last week and his side looked to be headed for another goalless draw until Bale nodded in Lucas Vazquez's cross with 10 minutes remaining.
"We had to suffer and that's what the players did. We were up against a difficult opponent but I'm happy with the work we did and to pick up the points," said Zidane.
The coach highlighted the importance of every player in his squad after the game.
"It means that every player is important, they deliver when they play and it's important to know that I have 20 or 21 players who are always ready to play," he said.
"When we play every three days it's always difficult but everyone plays and everyone delivers, and that's the best thing about this team."
Madrid defender Sergio Ramos added: "The team were playing for our lives, we didn't have much luck with the chances we created but we kept on insisting. It was a final, we're playing for the league title and we had to keep the pressure on."
The defender also said he was optimistic about Madrid's chances of toppling title rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
"As long as we have a chance we have to fight and sacrifice a lot," he said.
"It's an exciting end to the league season. We would like to be in a different position but now we have to wait and hope that the others slip up."