Download: Athletic Bilbao 1 – 2 Real Madrid [La Liga Highlights]
Karim Benzema and Casemiro scored the goals to give Real Madrid an important 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in Saturday’s LaLiga meeting.
Real Madrid stretched their lead at the top of LaLiga to five points thanks to a 2-1 victory away to Athletic Bilbao at San Mames.
Goals from Karim Benzema and Casemiro, either side of an Aritz Aduriz header, were enough to settle a hard-fought encounter at San Mames and put the pressure on Barcelona ahead of their meeting with Valencia on Sunday.
Athletic had won 16 and drawn three of 19 games in front of their own fans since their last home defeat, which came against Barca in August, and were bright and industrious in the early stages.
They were given a warning sign of Madrid’s threat on the counter when Cristiano Ronaldo had an early goal disallowed but the Portugal star exploited the home side’s high defensive line to better effect in the 25th minute, as he raced through before crossing for Benzema to side-foot home his 16th goal of the season.
Ernesto Valverde’s side enjoyed plenty of possession without threatening Madrid’s goal too often, but Aduriz capitalised on a rare moment of slack defending to head his team level midway through the second half.
But Casemiro proved Madrid’s unlikely hero just three minutes later, tapping in from close range after being left unmarked at a corner to secure Madrid’s 13th win in 15 league meetings with the Basque side.
The result ensures that Zinedine Zidane’s team will be top of the table heading into the international break and leaves Barca needing a good result at Mestalla to keep the pressure on in the title race.