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The league leaders win in Bilbao to close out the year on a high

MATCH REPORT. 22/12/2021. Photographer: Antonio Villalba

Two Benzema goals, the first a spectacular strike, clinched all three points for Real Madrid, who close out 2021 with a 15-match unbeaten run.

Real Madrid put the gloss on a fine 2021, closing out the year with a fine win over Athletic. Our team flew out the blocks and there were three swift goals scored inside the first 10 minutes. Kroos fired off a warning shot in the opening minute with a hallmark strike, before the next move of the match yielded the first goal. The German's one-touch lay-off was perfect for Benzema, who effortlessly whipped the ball into the far corner from the edge of the box. An absolute worldie.

The league leaders knew one was not enough and wasted no time doubling their lead. Valverde won the ball back in the centre of the park and shot forward quickly, laying the ball to Hazard. The ball flicked off a defender and fell to Benzema, the Frenchman making no mistake as he swept the ball past Agirrezabala to complete his double (7’). That spurred the hosts into life and their first shot on goal ended up in the back of the net. Sancet was the scorer, in some style, as his long-range effort flew in off the post leaving Courtois with no chance. And that was all inside the first 10 minutes.

Video.1-2: The league leaders win in Bilbao to close out the year on a high

The game suddenly opened up and Ancelotti's side had the chance to increase their lead in this end to end spell on the half hour mark. A lively Hazard cut in from the right, making his way into the penalty area, pulling the ball back for Benzema before De Marcos nicked it from him just when it looked like a goal was on the cards. Real Madrid looked to maintain possession, keep control and dictate the tempo of the match, while Athletic continued to play their trademark high pressing football throughout the second half. On the hour mark, Williams came close to netting the equaliser but his shot flashed into the side-netting.
Roared on by their fans, the Red and Whites pressed forward and forced our team to defend with everything they had, with Vini Jr. delivering a remarkable performance. Tiredness set in but the intensity didn't drop in the final 15 minutes, as Hazard had the chance to score from a counter-attack, linking up well with Benzema and Vini Jr. in the 80th minute, but his left-footed effort was kept out by the home keeper. Ancelotti freshened things up, bringing on Mariano, Jović and Peter, who picked up where their teammates left off and gave their all until the full-time whistle to secure the three points from a pulsating game at San Mamés.

Benzema hits his fourth brace of the season

The French forward, who is one goal away from bringing up 300 for Real Madrid, hit his fourth brace this season, having also notched two against Alavés, Mallorca and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Peter made his Real Madrid debut

The Madrid-born academy ace and Real Madrid Castilla graduate made his first-team debut at San Mamés.




The referee

Soto Grado (Rioja Committee), assisted by Álvarez Fernández and López Mir. Recio Moreno was the fourth official and Mateu Lahoz (Valencian Committee) was VAR.