Real Madrid 3-1 Athletic Bilbao: Karim Benzema scores brace after Toni Kroos’ superb opener to send hosts level on points with LaLiga leaders Real Sociedad
- Real Madrid beat 10-man Athletic Bilbao to close gap to leaders Real Sociedad
- Raul Garcia was sent off in the 14th minute for two yellow card offences
- The hosts then got the go-ahead goal through Toni Kroos in first-half injury time
- The visitors pulled one back through Ander Capa seven minutes after the restart
- Real regained the lead as Karim Benzema scored with an emphatic header
- Courtois then pulled off a game-winning save which led to Benzema’s second
Karim Benzema scored twice to send Real Madrid to victory against Athletic Bilbao and the goals left Zinedine Zidane’s team flying high level top of the league.
The French striker scored his fifth and sixth goal of the season to finally put away spirited Athletic Bilbao who fought back from an early goal despite having 10 men from minute 14.
Toni Kroos was the man of the first half. He got kicked twice in seven minutes but he made his opponents pay scoring from the edge of the area to put Madrid ahead.
Karim Benzema scored a brace to help Real Madrid overcome 10-man Athletic Bilbao
The Frenchman scored his second goal with what was the last touch of the game in Madrid
Benzema (right) is congratulated by Luka Modric and Marco Asensio for his brace on Tuesday
Thibaut Courtois had to make a match-winning save second before Benzema’s second goal
Raul Garcia was sent off for hacking down the German twice but the on-form midfielder got his own back with a goal just before the break.
Athletic Bilbao had started well with Iñaki Williams crossing and Oscar de Marcos heading wide. Benzema then played a pass to Valverde with his back but that trick aside Real Madrid were uninspired in the opening stages.
Then having started so well Athletic Bilbao self-destructed with Raul Garcia pulling the pin and lobbing the grenade over his shoulder.
First he was booked on seven minutes for an ugly challenge on Toni Kroos. He deserved the caution and that left him with the prospect of having to stay out of trouble with referee Jesus Gil for the remaining 83 minutes.
He lasted just seven minutes more. The second foul was clumsy but it was enough to merit another yellow and he was off – his fifth red in 497 games.
Toni Kroos gave Real the lead with a superb long-range effort in first-half stoppage time
The German maestro smacked his shot low into Bilbao’s net seconds before the break
The Real Madrid players gather to congratulate the midfielder following his brilliant strike
However, Real’s lead lasted seven in-game minutes as Ander Capa equalised after the break
The Bilbao right-back burst into the box and fired at goal before turning in his own rebound
Thibaut Courtois looks deflated after denying Capa once before conceding the rebound
REAL MADRID: (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Kroos, Valverde (Isco 64), Modric; Lucas (Rodrygo 76), Benzema, Vinicius (Asensio 64)
SUBS NOT USED: Altube (GK), Lunin (GK); Nacho, Marcelo, Militao, Odriozola
GOALS: Kroos (45+1), Benzema (74, 90+2)
BOOKINGS: Lucas (42)
COACH: Zinedine Zidane
ATHLETIC BILBAO: (4-2-3-1) Simon; Capa (Lekue 80), Alvarez, Martinez, Berchiche; Garcia, Vencedor (Vesga 67); de Marcos (Muniain 80), Garcia, Berenguer (Cordoba 59); Williams (Villalibre 67)
SUBS NOT USED: Ezkieta (GK), Balenziaga, Kodro, Lopez, Morcillo, Nunez, Sancet
GOALS: Capa (52)
BOOKINGS: Garcia (8, 13), Alvarez (80)
SENT OFF: Garcia (13)
COACH: Gaizka Garitano
REFEREE: Jesus Gil Manzano
VENUE: Alfredo di Stefano Stadium
If Athletic felt hard done by they were given the benefit of the doubt by Gil and by video assisted referee Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez with the next incident.
Vinicius tried to trick his way past Ander Capa and the full-backs stuck out hand inadvertently stopped the progress of the ball. No penalty was given.
Vinicius was causing problems down the left although he was fortunate not to be penalized for a dive after tripping over one of Capa’s challenges.
Despite the man advantage Real Madrid were still limited to some Kroos shots from distance and the occasional piece of magic from Benzema.
It was four minutes before half time that they had their first clear opportunities.
Luka Modric crossed and Vinicius should have finished from close range but his side-footed shot was blocked by Unai Simon. Fede Valverde then missed from the same distance.
Athletic were a breath away from going down the tunnel happy. They were still on terms and with Lucas Vazquez booked for clattering Alex Berenguer there was even a chance the numbers might be evened up in the second half.
But Kroos struck with the last kick of the first 45, striking Valverde’s pull-back sweetly straight into the corner past Simon.
Eight of the 20 goals he has scored for Madrid have been from the outside of the area.
Athletic showed great spirit at the restart and with a quick break Ander Capa exchanged passes with Oscar del Marcos and then shot at Thibaut Courtois.
The Belgian keeper’s block went straight back out to the full-back and his shot beat Courtois after taking a slight deflection off of Ramos.
Benzema then headed in Real second goal to restore the hosts’ lead in the Spanish capital
The Frenchman popped up in the 74th minute to head in Dani Carvajal’s superb cross
Benzema wheels away in celebration after restoring Real’s lead at Alfredo Di Stefano stadium
Benzema (right) celebrates his goal with manager Zinedine Zidane (left) in the second half
That left Madrid increasingly desperate in search of the winner. Vinicius skied one chance and was taken off shortly afterwards. Modric whipped the ball across the face of the goal with no one getting on the end of it.
But Benzema delivered when his team needed him most. Real Madrid played a corner short to Dani Carvajal and from his inviting cross Zidane’s favourite son buried his header.
Mikel Vesga gave Athletic a late scare with a right-foot shot that Courtois saved brilliantly. Benzema went down the other end and drilled in his second of the game to put Real third on goal-difference but level on points with the top two.
Bilbao had it all to do after Raul Garcia was sent off for two bookable offences early on
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