Real Madrid 4-2 Athletic Bilbao: Player Ratings
Cristiano Ronaldo was at the double as Real Madrid powered to a 4-2 win over Athletic Bilbao at home and provisionally trim the gap at the top to just a point.
The Portuguese striker found the breakthrough in just the third minute, before seeing it get cancelled out by Eraso after a horrible mistake by Rafael Varane.
As the game approached its interval, for all of Bilbao’s spirited show, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos struck for the home side in quick succession. The tie was over as a contest, but Ronaldo bagged his brace with another stunning effort late doors before Elustondo reduced the deficit at the death for the visitors with a consolation.
Here’s how each player on the field fared in the game.
Keylor Navas – 8
The Costa Rican had to be on his toes as the visitors attacked at full pelt, but the Real Madrid custodian wasn’t half-shabby either as he made some really crucial saves to preserve his side’s lead. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything he could do about the 2 goals Athletic Club scored.
Sergio Ramos – 7
The maverick centre-back was hassled by Aritz Aduriz throughout the evening but dealt with him in some style. A fair-to-middling performance by the skipper.
Daniel Carvajal – 7.5
Carvajal, as usual, drifted down the right flank at every opportunity and was involved in the attack many a time. Defensively, he was sound and kept close tabs on his markers.
Rafael Varane – 6
It was a miserable day for the French youngster. Firstly, he was responsible for Bilbao’s equaliser after his horrible backpass and was sent off late in the game for 2 bookable offences, a decision which rather looked harsh.
Danilo – 6.5
The Brazilian was handed a chance in the left flank to impress Zidane following Marcelo’s injury, but Danilo failed to make the most of it. The 23-year old appeared shaky at the back and succumbed to the pressure from the visitors.
Mateo Kovacic – 7.5
A rare start for the Croatian, Kovacic linked well with his compatriot Luka Modric in the midfield and also got into some dangerous position whilst contributing in the attack.
James Rodriguez – 8
The strapping youngster had come under heavy criticism for his lack of form but cocked a snook at his naysayers with a cracking long range goal that put Real Madrid in the lead. Otherwise too, the Colombian was terrific, posing a threat to the visiting defence on numerous occasions.
Toni Kroos – 8
The German midfielder got on the scoresheet after more than a year and manned the midfield with aplomb.
Luka Modric – 8.5
The cog that kept the Real Madrid engine ticking, Luka Modric, shifted gears in the second half to deny the visitors time on the ball and was the chief orchestrator in his side’s victory.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 9
The Real Madrid ace hooked two breath-taking finishes into the back of the net and also set up Kroos for their third goal. He was denied a chance for his hat-trick of goals, but Ronaldo, nonetheless, reigned supreme.
Karim Benzema – 6.5
In one of those rare off-coloured games, Benzema cut a forlorn figure and was uncharacteristically poor in the attacking third.
Nacho – 6.5
Nacho was barely handed time in the game and did not have much influence in the game.
Isco – 7.5
He may not have been involved in the attack like he normally does, but the Spaniard managed to bring the fans on their toes with some sizzling footwork.
Lucas Vazquez – 7.5
The winger came on late but set up Ronaldo’s second.
Gorka Iraizoz – 7.5
Athletic Club would have left the field with a worse scoreline had it not been for Iraizoz in between the sticks. The visiting custodian pulled off several stops to keep the scoreline respectable.
Aymeric Laporte – 7
The Spanish youngster was resolute at the back but was often left on his own by his team-mates.
Mikel Balenziaga – 7
The defender was seen spending more time up front than at the back but did a good job. Defensively, he left space for the hosts to exploit and landed his side in trouble many a time in the game.
Xabier Etxeita – 6
Real Madrid attackers had a nice time bullying the diminutive defender, who looked more like a damsel in distress.
Inigo Lekue – 6
Lekue was harrowed time and again by Ronaldo, who comfortably got the better of him in the build-up to the opener.
Javier Eraso – 8
Eraso posed the biggest threat coming from the visiting side and even got on the scoresheet after pouncing on Varane’s blunder.
Andre Iturraspe – 8
The young midfielder went hell for leather in the centre of the park, trying to instigate attacks and spraying passes all over.
Oscar de Marcos – 7.5
The Athletic No. 10 took some time to claw his way into the game but once he did, there was no stopping him. De Marcos contributed handsomely in the attack and also laid thing on the platter for Elustondo to score the second goal.
Benat – 8
Benat was one of the bright spots for the visitors during their sustained period of dominance in the first half and his off the ball movements helped his side maintain the heat on the Whites.
Sabin Merino – 6.5
The winger couldn’t have much influence in the game and also flashed a header well off target when handed a chance to score.
Aritz Aduriz – 7
The Athletic Club striker had a relatively quite evening and linked up well with his team-mates.
Gorka Elustondo – 8
The substitute made his impact felt with an impeccable header right at the death to reduce the deficit to just 2 goals and threatened to score another one in the extra time.
Borja Viguera – 6
Very ineffectual, Viguera’s substitution accounted for zilch.
Iker Muniain – 6
The attacker did not have much time to have his say in the game, but in the minutes awarded, was quite disappointing.