Highlights: Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Real Madrid; Madrid suffer shock defeat at Basque Country
La Liga leaders Real Madrid suffered a defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao to give Barcelona the chance to move ahead of them when the Catalans face Rayo Vallecano on Sunday. Madrid, who had a chance to extend their lead and put pressure on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, will now remain on 61 points from 26 matches with Barcelona on 59 from 25 and Atletico 54 from 25.
Madrid started with a strong lineup as manager Carlo Ancelotti started his star trio – Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. Athletic, on the other hand, started with a slightly weak lineup as Aritz Aduriz and Iker Muniain started while Markel Susaeta was on the bench.
The home side started the match with the clear strategy of playing on the counter attack and pressing Madrid when they didn’t have the ball. La Liga leaders Madrid, however, were very wasteful in their shooting as they ended the match with only 2 shots on target out of the 12 they attempted.
Athletic took advantage of the away side’s wastefulness in the 27th minute when Aritz Aduriz ghosted inside the penalty box and sent a powerful header past Iker Casillas to give his side the lead. Madrid barely threatened in the first half and without the mercurial Luka Modric looked devoid of ideas in the middle of the park.
The second half was an end-to-end affair as Madrid pushed men forward to try and get the equalizer while the Basque side were content with defending and hitting the defending Champions League winners on the counter attack. Athletic had a glorious chance of increasing their lead when the goalscorer Aduriz headed the ball off the post.
Madrid huffed and puffed in getting the equalizer and a long-range strike, which could have been intended as a cross, by Gareth Bale caught the goalkeeper off guard, but fortunately for Gorka Iraizoz, struck the post and went out. The final few moments didn’t really produce much action as Athletic closed up shop and Madrid reluctantly accepted the result.
Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Real Madrid: Aritz Aduriz (27’)
Midfielder Mikel Rico sent in a hopeful cross into the box and while the Madrid defenders waited for each other to jump and head the ball clear, Aduriz made his way into the box before heading the ball into the back of the net with immense power which left Casillas with no chance in spite of a diving attempt to save it.