After Real Madrid’s city rivals Atletico slipped up in Seville earlier today, the rekindled Galacticos had a chance to go top of La Liga with three points tonight. They faced an Athletic Bilbao side who sat one point below their opponents in the table and were looking to place pressure on the top five.
It was the away side who fashioned the first chance of the game, after some high pressing, Eraso produced a sublime backheel which found Inaki Williams and his shot was tipped behind by Keylor Navas.
But the home side turned defence into attack and took the lead on 7 minutes. Isco was played in behind the Bilbao back line and after his persistence won the ball back, the Spaniard squared it to Karim Benzema who guided the ball past Gorka Iraizoz to give his side the lead.
After taking the sting out of the game, Athletic Bilbao equalised with 27 minutes on the clock. After a scramble in the Real Madrid penalty box and a few lucky deflections, the ball fell to the feet of Sabin who had a simple finish which he duly converted to send the away fans into ecstasy.
At half-time a resilient Athletic Bilbao side had not only reduced Real Madrid to one goal, but netted themselves to level the score. A point would simply not do for Zinedine Zidane whose side would have to be more clinical in the second half.
The first chance in the second period went the way of the away side. After some poor defending from Real Madrid, Williams found himself bearing down on the goal but the Spaniard agonisingly fired his shot over the bar.
Gareth Bale hold a golden chance after Toni Kross delivered a delicious lofted through ball to him, however, the Welsh international’s volley rolled gruelingly wide of the far post.
A frustrated but persistent Real Madrid finally took the lead again after 83 minutes. Bale whipped in a wonderful cross and after Alvaro Morata’s initial effort was saved, the substitute tapped in the rebound to erupt the Santiago Bernabaeu.
However there was almost a sting in the tail for the home team minutes later, an awful backpass was pounced upon by Williams and his attempted chip was well saved by Navas and the striker was left dismayed after another missed opportunity.
This vital three points takes Los Blancos top of La Liga, one point ahead of Sevilla. Bilbao, however, remain in sixth place, three points behind Atletico Madrid in fifth.