Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Real Madrid

Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Real Madrid”

Athletic had Madrid penned back into their own half in a dominant opening 10 minutes, although Keylor Navas was forced to make only one save of note to keep out a Raul Garcia volley.

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

However, Casemiro struck back within a few minutes as Ronaldo flicked the ball on at the near post from a set piece to slot home the victor.

Making its first touchdown at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport, the Emirates A380 has been emblazoned with the image of Real Madrid footballing giants. Ronaldo beat the offside trap to latch onto a chipped pass down the left by Toni 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.

Zidane is happy to play the second leg at Santiago Bernabéu: "I learnt a lot with Carlo and he's a good person. He's got to be one of the best central midfielders in the world".

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But the league-leaders responded immediately when Casemiro finished from close range, with Real Madrid seeing out the game to collect a valuable three points, taking full control of the title race ahead of Barcelona's game against Valencia tomorrow evening. "Now we don't have to think in the Champions League but in San Mamés", Zidane said. Although they have a habit of conceding an early goal to their rivals and if their displays have not always been convincing, there is no doubting the faith of a side that will count on the support of a packed stadium where Real Madrid are probably the most unpopular of visitors. "It was important to get to the global break at the top of the table". We knew it was going to be more than hard.

"Pressure, we're going to have pressure until the end", Zidane said. "We knew what we had to do, what the boss asked of us, and we came out with the victory".

Bale missed that game and also the previous La Liga win over Eibar after the former Tottenham star was sent off during the 3-3 clash with Las Palmas on 1 March for shoving Jonathan Viera.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC.

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