Real Madrid stretched their lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga to five points with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.
Casemiro scored what proved to be the winner for Zinedine Zidane’s side at San Mames, putting them five points clear of their greatest rivals at the top of the standings. Athletic Bilbao dominated large spells of the match, but were ultimately toothless in the final third.
Karim Benzema was the driving force behind the away side, scoring the opener and causing problems for the hosts throughout. However, Real Madrid were pegged back in the second half when Aritz Aduriz headed home following a set up from Raul Garcia.
But the league-leaders responded immediately when Casemiro finished from close range, with Real Madrid seeing out the game to collect a valuable three points, taking full control of the title race ahead of Barcelona’s game against Valencia tomorrow evening.
TALKING POINT - Has Gareth Bale been rushed back to action too quickly?
The Welshman was back in the Real Madrid starting lineup for this match, but failed to make much of an impression. Gareth Bale drifted through the match, somehow staying on for the full 90 minutes despite being well short of match sharpness. So has he been rushed back to action too quickly? Would a stint on the bench be better for his recovery?
MAN OF THE MATCH - Karim Benzema
Questions have been asked of Benzema in recent weeks, with Alvaro Morata considered by many to be Real Madrid’s best centre forward, but the French striker was at his best against Athletic Bilbao. His finish for the opening goal was exquisite, also turning provider for a number of golden opportunities spurned by teammates. Benzema has hit a real vein of form.
Athletic Bilbao - Kepa 6, De Marcos 6, Laporte 5, Yeray 7, Balenziaga 6, Iturraspe 6, Benat 7, Lekue 6, Garcia 8, Williams 8, Aduriz 7. Subs - Muniain 6, Rico 5, Susaeta 5.
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