Casemiro scores winner as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao 1 - 2 Real Madrid

Casemiro scores winner as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao

19/03/2017

Real Madrid moved five points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao.

Karim Benzema put the visitors in front after being set up by Cristiano Ronaldo on 24 minutes, but Athletic, who had previously lost only once at home all season, equalised through Aritz Aduriz just after the hour.

Real, though, were soon back in the lead when Casemiro tapped in following a corner in the 68th minute as Zinedine Zidane's men kept the pressure up on rivals Barca, who host Valencia on Sunday.

Wales forward Gareth Bale returned from his two-match suspension to join Benzema and Ronaldo in the Real frontline.

Athletic were defending a formidable home record, having not lost at San Mames since a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona back in August.

It was a positive start from Los Leones, who tested Madrid keeper Keylor Navas with some high balls into the penalty area.

Real thought they had taken an early lead through Ronaldo on nine minutes.

The Portugal forward, however, was flagged offside after tapping in a scuffed cross from defender Dani Carvajal.

The home side then went close when defender Yeray, who recovered from being diagnosed with testicular cancer before Christmas, stabbed the ball wide from close range after Raul Garcia's knockdown following a deep free-kick.

At the other end, Real captain Sergio Ramos sent a diving header off target at the far post following a free-kick whipped through the Bilbao box from the right by Toni Kroos.

Real swept into the lead on 24 minutes.

Ronaldo beat the offside trap to latch onto a chipped pass down the left by Kroos, before clipping the ball back across the penalty area, where Benzema arrived to dispatch a first-time shot low into the bottom right corner.

It was almost quickly 2-0 as Bale stung the palms of Bilbao keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The referee then had to deal with a flashpoint as Garcia and Ramos squared up, with Athletic forward Aduriz and Carvajal also getting involved before calm was restored and a couple of cautions handed out.

Benzema failed to convert Marcelo's cross as Real finished the first half on top.

After the end-to-end action of the opening 45 minutes, the tempo dropped at the start of the second half.

Real keeper Navas was eventually called into action just after the hour when got down to smartly palm away Inaki Williams' low shot from close range.

The equaliser came on 65 minutes.

Williams was this time the creator, as he stood up a deep cross from the right through the Real penalty area to the back post where Garcia nodded it into the six-yard box and Aduriz headed in.

Real, however, were back in front within three minutes.

A corner from the right was flicked on at the near post by Ronaldo and Casemiro was left unmarked to pass the ball into the net from a yard out.

Marcelo hacked over from close range and Navas blocked Williams' angled effort as Real closed out victory to remain in control at the top of LaLiga.

Related news

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice to lead Real Madrid to 4-0 win

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice to lead Real Madrid to 4-0 win

Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema were on the scoresheet as a Real Madrid side shorn of several stars continued their impressive form with a 4-0 victory over Alaves.

Asensio inspires Real Madrid to win over Leganes

Asensio inspires Real Madrid to win over Leganes

Skipper Sergio Ramos scored a late penalty clincher as Real Madrid came from behind to win 3-1 at Leganes and ease themselves into third place in La Liga.

Marco Asensio strikes twice to fuel Real Madrid's comeback against Betis

Marco Asensio strikes twice to fuel Real Madrid's comeback against Betis

Real Madrid staged a storming second-half comeback to beat Real Betis 5-3 in an eight-goal La Liga thriller.

Atletico Madrid keep pressure on Barcelona with win vs. Athletic Bilbao

Atletico Madrid keep pressure on Barcelona with win vs. Athletic Bilbao

Atletico Madrid closed the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona back to seven points with a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.

Valencia stage late comeback at Malaga

Valencia stage late comeback at Malaga

Valencia produced a quick-fire turnaround to win 2-1 at basement club Malaga and ensure they will end the weekend in third place, while Sevilla warmed up for their Champions League game with Manchester United next week by beating Las Palmas 2-1.

Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba help Barcelona win away to Eibar

Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba help Barcelona win away to Eibar

La Liga leaders Barcelona warmed up for their Champions League clash against Chelsea with a 2-0 win at Eibar, who finished with 10 men and manager Jose Luis Mendilibar sent to the stands.

Barcelona held at home by Getafe as unbeaten streak continues

Barcelona held at home by Getafe as unbeaten streak continues

Barcelona maintained their unbeaten record in La Liga but drew for the second league game in succession as Getafe held the leaders to a goalless stalemate at the Nou Camp.

Sevilla with a much-needed victory over Girona

Sevilla with a much-needed victory over Girona

Goalkeeper Sergio Rico was the Sevilla hero as the Copa del Rey finalists claimed a much-needed 1-0 LaLiga victory over Girona.

Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick helps Real Madrid down Real Sociedad

Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick helps Real Madrid down Real Sociedad

Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat trick as Real Madrid warmed up for their Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain by convincingly beating Real Sociedad 5-2.

RELATED NEWS

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice to lead Real Madrid to 4-0 win
Real Madrid 4-0 Alaves

Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice to lead Real Madrid to 4-0 win

Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema were on the scoresheet as a Real Madrid side shorn of several stars continued their impressive form with a 4-0 victory over Alaves.

Asensio inspires Real Madrid to win over Leganes
Leganes 1 - 3 Real Madrid

Asensio inspires Real Madrid to win over Leganes

Skipper Sergio Ramos scored a late penalty clincher as Real Madrid came from behind to win 3-1 at Leganes and ease themselves into third place in La Liga.

Marco Asensio strikes twice to fuel Real Madrid's comeback against Betis
Real Betis 3 - 5 Real Madrid

Marco Asensio strikes twice to fuel Real Madrid's comeback against Betis

Real Madrid staged a storming second-half comeback to beat Real Betis 5-3 in an eight-goal La Liga thriller.

Atletico Madrid keep pressure on Barcelona with win vs. Athletic Bilbao
Atletico Madrid 2 - 0 Athletic Bilbao

Atletico Madrid keep pressure on Barcelona with win vs. Athletic Bilbao

Atletico Madrid closed the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona back to seven points with a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.

Valencia stage late comeback at Malaga
Malaga 1 - 2 Valencia

Valencia stage late comeback at Malaga

Valencia produced a quick-fire turnaround to win 2-1 at basement club Malaga and ensure they will end the weekend in third place, while Sevilla warmed up for their Champions League game with Manchester United next week by beating Las Palmas 2-1.

Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba help Barcelona win away to Eibar
Eibar 0 - 2 Barcelona

Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba help Barcelona win away to Eibar

La Liga leaders Barcelona warmed up for their Champions League clash against Chelsea with a 2-0 win at Eibar, who finished with 10 men and manager Jose Luis Mendilibar sent to the stands.

Barcelona held at home by Getafe as unbeaten streak continues
Barcelona 0 - 0 Getafe

Barcelona held at home by Getafe as unbeaten streak continues

Barcelona maintained their unbeaten record in La Liga but drew for the second league game in succession as Getafe held the leaders to a goalless stalemate at the Nou Camp.

Sevilla with a much-needed victory over Girona
Sevilla 1 - 0 Girona

Sevilla with a much-needed victory over Girona

Goalkeeper Sergio Rico was the Sevilla hero as the Copa del Rey finalists claimed a much-needed 1-0 LaLiga victory over Girona.

Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick helps Real Madrid down Real Sociedad
Real Madrid 5 - 2 Real Sociedad

Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick helps Real Madrid down Real Sociedad

Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat trick as Real Madrid warmed up for their Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain by convincingly beating Real Sociedad 5-2.