Real Madrid extended their winning streak in La Liga with a 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday. The home side was coming off a win against Madrid rivals Atletico ahead of Tuesday’s game against Bilbao, with Karim Benzema providing the heroics in front of goal.
Club Bilbao appeared to be leaning into an early press against Real Madrid which didn’t pay off after some heavy fouling from the visitors led to a red card and a man advantage early for Los Blancos. Raul Garcia earned two yellows early into the match, and was sent off in the 14th minute. Despite the player advantage, Real had failed to generate meaningful attempts on target despite outshooting their opposition 12-4 in the first half.
Toni Kroos would break Bilbao’s efforts to keep things scoreless ahead halftime as he gave Madrid the lead in first-half stoppage time with a goal from just outside of the box.
Some good combining play between Valverde and Vinicius led to Kroos’ low driving shot to give the home side the narrow lead with a man advantage. A lack of width in the first half saw few crosses, despite Vinicius’ best efforts to remain active.
The second half would still see an active Athletic Club down both one goal and one player, but they were able to find an early equalizer in the 52nd minute. Defender Ander Capa made a darting run up the field, combining with De Marcos, and connecting for a goal off a rebound from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Madrid kept the pressure, however, with good runs from Vinicius and Benzema. The French striker would finally connect on goal for the lead in the 74th minute despite not being on the receiving end of many crosses in the match.
Benzema would be poorly marked off a set piece corner that Madrid played short, with the French striker able to connect on a header for the lead. He would ultimately provide the dagger in stoppage time with Madrid’s third goal. Courtois would make a fantastic save to keep Madrid level, spurring Luka Modric to connect with Benzema on a run.
The two would combine in the box for Madrid’s third and final goal, locking up the win, and giving Real the crucial three points. It’s a remarkable run for Benzema, who has been in fantastic form as of late, scoring for Los Blancos even without a lot service into the box, and scoring in their current Champions League campaign as well.
With the win, La Liga’s standings are dead-locked with Real Madrid sitting tied on 26 points with Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid.