REPORT | 02/12/2017 | Javier García | PHOTOGRAPHER: Antonio VillalbaReal Madrid deserved a win in Bilbao but Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo's efforts both hit the post.
- La Liga
- Matchday 14
It was a fast-paced affair and Real Madrid fought off Athletic Bilbao's initial advances, showing patience and putting together long periods of possession. The Whites looked focused, and could have gone ahead on 8 minutes. Cristiano picked up the ball, Isco crossed in and Benzema hit the post. It was the clearest chance of the first half, but not the only one. Both teams fashioned opening and looked to get into their opponent's box to create danger.
Real Madrid moved the ball around well and Marcelo tried his best down the wing, as Kroos and Cristiano Ronaldo looked to break the deadlock. The Portuguese was a constant threat in the box and had a good chance that he sent wide on 36'. Athletic also created a major threat, proving their mettle in the air and sending in some dangerous free-kicks. Aritz Aduriz tried to find the net with a header before Williams forced Keylor Navas into a save with a ferocious cross-shot.
Although the game remained goalless, the teams were serving up a lively encounter which was yielding chances at both ends. After the restart, it was Athletic who were first to come close, with Aduriz once again being denied by Keylor Navas, before Susaeta was next to try his luck. The game continued to be played at a frantic pace and Real Madrid looked to make the breakthrough with lightning quick transitions in attack, but they were lacking that final ball to put them clean through on goal.
Down to 10 men
The driving rain and high-octane pace of the game were beginning to take their toll on the players. Madrid, however, kept probing and Cristiano Ronaldo saw his stunning effort shave the upright on 72'. There was a quarter of an hour to go and it was time for Madrid to give it one last go. The visitors laid siege to Athletic's area and were ended up camped in their half. Marcelo, who was now proving to be a real threat down the flank, forced Arrizabalaga into a fine save. With 86 minutes on the clock, Real Madrid were reduced to 10 men after Sergio Ramos was shown a second yellow. That served to knock the stuffing out of Zidane's charges, who failed to claim the three points at San Mamés.