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Morata makes the most of cameo again to rescue Real

Football Soccer - Spanish Liga Santander - Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao- Santiago Bernabeu stadium, Madrid, Spain 23/10/16. Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata celebrates his goal. REUTERS/Andrea Comas
Football Soccer - Spanish Liga Santander - Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao- Santiago Bernabeu stadium, Madrid, Spain 23/10/16. Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata celebrates his goal. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

By Richard Martin

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Alvaro Morata again proved decisive from the bench by striking a late winner against Athletic Bilbao and firing a lacklustre Real Madrid to the top of La Liga on Sunday.

The Spain international has been afforded limited opportunities in his first season back at Real following two years with Juventus, struggling to usurp first choice forwards Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Morata has made just four league starts, but has scored four times in all competitions.

He was also the hero for Real in last month's Champions League group game with Sporting Lisbon, netting in the 94th minute to earn a scantly deserved 2-1 win, and also came off the bench to score in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Legia Warsaw.

"I would happily accept scoring every time I came off the bench, I am here to help the team and that's what I'm doing," Morata told Movistar Plus on Sunday.

"It would be very selfish of me to just think about myself, we're a team and I have to accept the coach's decisions. I always want to play but that's not easy to do here."

Real leapfrogged local rivals Atletico Madrid to return to the top of the standings after three weeks off the summit, although Morata admitted the European champions had not produced a convincing display against Athletic.

"It was a very difficult game, Athletic are a great team and it takes a lot to beat them. This wasn't our best game but we have to keep on working."

Despite needing to rely on another late show from Morata, Real coach Zinedine Zidane said his side had played well against Athletic.

"Sometimes you find it difficult to score because your opponent makes it so difficult and that's what happened today but with a little patience we pulled off the win," said the Frenchman.

"There is no league season when you don't have to work hard and suffer. I know that we're Real Madrid and we're expected to score four or five goals every game, but easy games don't exist.

"We can always improve but the important thing is to keep doing what we're doing. Some days we will miss chances and other days we'll score them, but the important thing is to give everything, and today my team was ready to do that."

(Editing by Ian Ransom)

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