Ronaldo turns playmaker to lead Madrid past Bilbao 2-1 | 2017-03-19 |

Ronaldo turns playmaker to lead Madrid past Bilbao 2-1

Sun Online Desk     19th March, 2017 09:15:05 printer

Ronaldo turns playmaker to lead Madrid past Bilbao 2-1

Real Madrid extended their lead at the top of La Liga to five points with a narrow win against Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames Stadium.


Karim Benzema and Casemiro scored the goals to give Real Madrid an important 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in Saturday's LaLiga meeting.


Second-placed Barcelona, who have played the same amount of games as Real, host Valencia on Sunday.


Athletic had won 16 and drawn three of 19 games in front of their own fans since their last home defeat, which came against Barca in August, and were bright and industrious in the early stages.


Real, who are chasing their first league title since 2011-12, went ahead through Karim Benzema on 25 minutes.


Veteran striker Aritz Aduriz equalised on 65 minutes, before Casemiro scored the winner three minutes later.


Athletic went into the game with the second-best home record in the league behind Real, and boasting just one defeat all season at the San Mames, which came against Barcelona in August.


Real weathered some early pressure to take the lead as Cristiano Ronaldo squared for Benzema and the France striker placed a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.


The first half was a heated affair with Casemiro, Dani Carvajal and Aduriz all booked.


Athletic almost equalised immediately after the break, as Aduriz sent a header towards the far post and Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos got in each other's way, before the defender managed to clear.


The impressive Inaki Williams was Athletic's best attacker and gave Marcelo a torrid time on the left. The 22-year-old, who has been linked with Liverpool, forced Navas into a good save from point-blank range on 64 minutes.


Two minutes later, the equaliser came as Raul Garcia headed a cross across the box to 36-year-old Spanish international Aduriz who placed his header past Navas from close range.


The lead did not last though, as Real quickly responded from a corner.


Toni Kroos' corner was flicked on by Ronaldo to Casemiro at the far post, who controlled with his chest and then shot from close range to score.


Wales forward Gareth Bale, who returned after a two-match ban, was subdued, with a powerful left-footed shot on 27 minutes his best effort in the match.