Madrid extended their lead at the top of LaLiga to six points ahead of Barcelona's trip to Real Betis as they prevailed in a feisty encounter at El Sadar.
Unai Garcia headed the hosts into a 14th-minute lead but Isco volleyed in his first league goal of the campaign and Sergio Ramos edged Madrid in front before the break.
Substitutes Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic added gloss to the scoreline late on, the former having replaced the recalled Bale 20 minutes from time.
The Wales star passed up a pair of half-chances before having a hand in Isco's equalizer and Zidane was impressed by his efforts without the ball, during what was at times a grueling contest.
"He is an important player, he has shown it," Zidane told reporters afterwards.
"He has not played the last three games and has made 70 very good minutes defensively.
"Then, the problem is that they want us to have a problem with Gareth, but there is not one.
"There are many players, it’s not easy to manage all that. He’s a very important player, he’s always shown it and he’ll keep playing, like the others."
Asked again about Bale's performance, Zidane added: "He has done well. I am happy for his game, offensively and defensively he has given everything.
"He was a bit short physically at the end, so he has left the field. We know the player he is and that he is going to give a lot from now until the end of the season. Let's count on Gareth."
Jovic is another player who has not always found favor with his boss and the former Eintracht Frankfurt striker's fabulous left-footed finish marked only a second LaLiga goal, and his first since October.
"I'm glad for him, I needed him, he is a pure striker of whom you can say many things," Zidane said.
"He plays well, but if he does not score a goal he is not happy. He has to improve, but I'm glad for his goal. It will come in handy."
Eden Hazard was absent once more, with the Belgium playmaker running out of time to prove his fitness before the Champions League clash with Manchester City at the end of this month.
"It's a thing we do together," Zidane explained when discussing the management of Hazard's recovery from a fractured ankle.
"It wasn't the time today again and we'll see this week. He's going to need this week, it's going to be long. We're going to see him next week, I hope."