Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 4-2
Real Madrid continued their strong run of form with a 4-2 over Athletic Bilbao even as they ended the game with ten men. The result sees Real Madrid rise to 2nd in the table one point below Barcelona albeit with the Catalans playing later in the weekend as do city rivals, Atletico Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo began the scoring in the 2nd minute of the game with a beautiful cut from the left side and an absolute stunner of the finish with his right foot high into the net. Madrid went from strength to strength with the confidence of that goal and almost scored a second through Ronaldo but for some defensive class from Bilbao.
When Raphael Varane was tested with a through ball by Bilbao, the Frenchman – not communicating with keeper Keylor Navas – passes the ball back, Navas misreads the ball and gets only fingertips to it before Eraso jumped on the free ball to equalise for the Basque team.
With the game starting to slip from Real Madrid's fingers – especially from the midfield – James Rodriguez took matters into his own hands and scored a screamer from outside the box. This was one of the finer performances from the Colombian who continued to impress in midfield after his goal.
Madrid went on to dominate the remaining first-half minutes thanks to the contribution of Luka Modric, Matteo Kovacic and Toni Kroos – the latter getting another goal with a well-taken effort after linking well with Portuguese superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo. The German got the ball inside the box, turned well to lost Aymeric Laporte and blasted the ball past Oblak to give Real Madrid a two-goal cushion.
At the beginning of the second half, Bilbao started the game strong but lost out in the final pass as Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane continued to hold a solid back-line. With Bilbao bringing on talented midfielder Iker Muniain, Zinedine Zidane responded with bringing on Spain's next prodigy: Isco. The latter brought on more attacking intent to the Madrid side.
With chances aplenty for both the sides, mistakes were flying in thick with multiple yellow cards being shown throughout the 90 minutes but what was a blow for the Los Blancos was seeing their young star defender, Varane, seeing a second yellow and being sent off for a silly tackle.
This didn't stop Real Madrid however as Ronaldo went on to score a lovely goal that gave Real Madrid a 3-goal lead over Bilbao before they scored through an incredible header by Elustondo. With this performance, Real Madrid have shown that they are capable of opening up tight defenses but need to work on their defending as Varane looked shaky at the back as did Danilo.