REPORT | 18/03/2017 | Alberto Navarro (Bilbao)Goals from Benzema and Casemiro seal victory for Real Madrid against Athletic.
- La Liga
- Matchday 28
Real Madrid have gone into the international break as leaders of LaLiga, having gained three vital points at San Mamés. The Whites notched their fourth win on the bounce after what was a physical and fast paced game. Athletic were the stronger side from the off, as their home support cheered them on, and they created real problems for Real Madrid. In the seventh minute, Aduriz crossed in and Raúl García fired in an acrobatic shot which was stopped by Keylor Navas and then cleared out by Nacho when the parried shot came back towards goal. The next chance was far much clearer. Beñat took a free kick, Raúl García headed the ball and Yeray was unlucky not to convert from just in front of goal.
This was the turning point for Real Madrid. Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo linked up sensationally with a pass between the lines. Ronaldo took a controlled shot across goal with his left but Arrizabalaga reacted magnificently to stop it. Just two minutes later, Benzema gained possession with his back to the defence, sold Iturraspe a dummy and cut inside, but his cross was wayward, ballooning out of play.
The Whites had responded well to Athletic's attacking play and had the chance to go ahead in the 19th minute with a piece of play straight from the Valdebebas training ground. Kroos took the free kick and Ramos' header went just inches wide of the home side's goal. This was the prelude to the opening goal. Casemiro spotted Cristiano Ronaldo losing his marker and sent in a sublime pass on the 25-minute mark. The forward controlled it beautifully with his heel before assisting Benzema in a precise, controlled move. The Frenchman had been a handful for the Basque defence so far and rounded this superb performance off by firing in the opening goal.
There was little more action of note before the break, aside from a Gareth Bale strike from the edge of the area on 26 minutes. By contrast, the second half kicked off at just the same breakneck pace as the first, as Williams went through against Keylor Navas, only for the Costa Rican stopper to foil him with a firm hand in the 63rd. He couldn’t repeat his heroics two minutes later though, as Williams was again instrumental, crossing for Raúl García, who nodded back across the box for Aduriz to turn the ball into the net and level the tie.
Casemiro clinches the three points
Athletic’s joy was short-lived though, as the Whites were back in front inside three minutes. Kroos sent in a corner, Cristiano flicked it on to the back post, where Casemiro was waiting to bring the ball down with a nice touch and finish calmly to get the goal his fine performance merited. Madrid could have stretched their advantage further when a sensational exchange Between Marcelo and Benzema saw the ball at the feet of the Brazilian left-back in a great position, but he shot over the bar. From there on in, the league-leaders remained solid at the back to maintain their advantage intact and take all three points.