Karim Benzema’s first half goal was the difference as Real Madrid went seven points clear at the top of La Liga with a 1-0 win over Athletic Club.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side entered the match as table-toppers, but made the most of the chance they were given to stretch their advantage over Atletico Madrid in second place and Barcelona, 13 points behind in seventh.
Athletic Club had a number of good chances to take the lead early on with Inaki Williams spurning two golden opportunities before Raul Garcia had a close-range header saved by Thibaut Courtois.
Transfers
Pogba ready to quit United for Real - Paper Round
YESTERDAY AT 23:54
It was Real Madrid who took the lead, though, when Benzema reacted quickest to a Luka Modric mis-hit with the French striker diverting his finish into the back of Unai Simon’s net.
The away side started the second half on the front foot with Lucas Vazquez making a sliding block to prevent Iker Muniain from scoring an equaliser as Real Madrid rode their luck on more than one occasion.
Eduardo Camavinga, Nacho Fernandez and Rodrygo were introduced off the bench as Ancelotti sought to see out the win and Real Madrid did just enough to pull themselves over the line.

TALKING POINT - How didn’t Athletic Club score?

Real Madrid can count themselves very lucky to have picked up six points from their last two matches. Sevilla had the chances to take something at the Santiago Bernabeu at the weekend and the same could be said of Athletic Club who created enough opportunities to score three or four in the capital. Garcia, Muniain and Williams were all extremely wasteful in front of goal as Real Madrid benefited from some good fortune, and some bad finishing by their opponents.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Few in all-white shone, but Benzema was still the best player on the pitch. So much of the home team’s attacking play flowed through the Frenchman who scored the only goal of the match. Benzema has produced better performances this season, but it says a lot about the standard he is playing at right now that he still proved to be the difference maker for the capital club.

PLAYER RATINGS

Real Madrid: Courtois 8, Vazquez 6, Militao 7, Alaba 7, Mendy 6, Casemiro 5, Modric 6, Kroos 7, Asensio 7, Vinicius 8, Benzema 8. Subs - Nacho 5, Valverde 4, Rodrygo 4, Camavinga 3.
Athletic Club: Simon 8, Lekue 4, Nunez 5, Yeray 6, Balenziaga 5, Zarraga 7, Dani Garcia 5, Vencedor 6, Muniain 8, Raul Garcia 3, Williams 3. Subs - Berenguer 4, Vesga 3, Sancet 6, Williams 4, De Marcos 4.

KEY MOMENTS

23’ WILLIAMS... just wide! What an opportunity for Athletic Club to find the back of the net with Muniain playing Williams in behind, but his strike picks up a deflection off Militao and flashes wide!
25’ What a chance! Oh dear! Williams was once again in behind, but he got the ball caught in his feet as he tried to round Courtois and the opportunity for Athletic Club vanishes!
28’ How didn't he score?! My word, what a chance for Athletic Club to find the back of the net! The freekick was right on Garcia's head, but his effort was saved by Courtois from about three yards out!
40’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Athletic Club: The breakthrough is made and Benzema finds the back of the net! Asensio had a shot saved by Asensio, Modric fired the rebound back towards goal, it landed at the feet of Benzema and the Frenchman finished into the empty net!
61’ What a block! Vazquez saves a certain goal with a block on the slide! How haven't Athletic Club scored this evening? They have had so many chances! Muniain missed that one.
87’ Another block! This time it's Vesga with the glorious opportunity find the back of the net for the away side with a header inside the box, but Militao makes the block with his face!

KEY STATS

  • Karim Benzema has the most goals (12) and the most assists (seven) in La Liga this season.
  • Luka Modric has made five assists for Real Madrid in La Liga, more than any other midfielder this season.
Copa del Rey
Muniain extra time penalty sees Athletic dump Barca out of cup after epic
YESTERDAY AT 19:47
Copa del Rey
Hazard the hero as Real Madrid snatch extra time cup win at Elche
YESTERDAY AT 17:05