Karim Benzema bagged a second-half brace for Real Madrid as Zinedine Zidane’s side continued their resurgence with a 3-1 win over 10-man Athletic Club.
Despite this being Real Madrid’s fourth match in 10 days, Zidane made just one change to the team that beat Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s derby, with Fede Valverde coming in for the suspended Casemiro.
The visitors started brightly, but were reduced to 10 men after only 13 minutes when Raul Garcia was shown a second yellow card for a foolish tackle on Toni Kroos on the edge of the opposition box.
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Athletic Club did well to keep things tight at the back until stoppage time at the end of the first half when Toni Kroos lashed home a finish from the edge of the box to give Real Madrid the advantage.
Ander Capa restored parity for Athletic Club seven minutes into the second half, scuffing a shot into the back of the Real Madrid net after Thibaut Courtois’ initial save from close range.
Benzema, however, gave Real Madrid the lead again 16 minutes from the end, getting on the end of a Dani Carvajal cross into the box to power a header home, marking his third goal in his last three appearances.
Courtois made a huge save to deny Mikel Vesga in stoppage time before Real Madrid broke up the pitch on the counter attack to secure the points with a third goal as Benzema converted with a reverse finish.
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This was Real Madrid’s fourth game in 10 days, yet Zidane made just one change to the team that won against Atletico Madrid on Saturday and that was an enforced change (Valverde in for the suspended Casemiro). Zidane has clearly settled on a group of players he trusts and having rotated his squad a lot in the early stage of the season the Frenchman is now keeping his line-up consistent in order to build momentum. At what point will fatigue become a factor, though?
Toni Kroos celebrates
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
The return of Carvajal from injury has been a big factor behind Real Madrid’s resurgence, with the right-back producing two assists for his side in this game. The 28-year-old’s contribution is often overlooked, but he remains one of the best creative full backs in the game. Real Madrid are a better team with Carvajal involved and this was a demonstration of that as he set up both Kroos and Benzema for their goals.
Real Madrid: Courtois 8, Carvajal 8, Varane 6, Ramos 7, Mendy 7, Valverde 6, Kroos 7, Modric 6, Vazquez 5, Vinicius 6, Benzema 7. Subs: Rodrygo 6, Asensio 6, Isco 5.
Athletic Club: Simon 6, Capa 7, Yeray 6, Martínez 5, Yuri 6, Vencedor 5, D. Garcia 5, Berenguer 6, R. Garcia 1, De Marcos 6, Williams 5. Subs: Muniain 5, Cordoba 5, Vesga 6, Lekue 5, Villalibre 5.
13’ SENT OFF! So foolish! Garcia picked up an early yellow card and now he's clattered into Kroos! The referee has no choice but to show the Athletic Club veteran a second yellow! He's off!
45+1’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Athletic Club (Kroos). Just as it seemed Athletic Club might get to half time with their clean sheet intact, Real Madrid take the lead! Right on the stroke of half time! Vinicius set the ball back to Kroos and the German midfielder lashes home a finish from the edge of the box!
52’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Athletic Club (Capa). The 10 men of Athletic Club have equalised! Incredible! It wasn't pretty but Capa scuffs a finish into the back of the net after his initial effort was saved by Courtois! The away side had started the second half strongly and now they have a reward for that!
74’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-1 Athletic Club (Benzema). Benzemaaaaaaa! Real Madrid have regained the lead! Asensio plays a quick corner kick to Carvajal, the right back plays a good ball into the box and Benzema was on hand to power a header past Simon and into the back of the net!
90+2’ What a chance! That should have been a late, late equaliser! The Real Madrid defence opened up for Vesga, but he couldn't beat Courtois! Massive save from the Belgian goalkeeper there!
90+3’ GOAL! Real Madrid 3-1 Athletic Club (Benzema). Seconds after nearly conceding, Real Madrid wrap things up with a third! Benzema is played through and the French striker makes no mistake with his low shot into the far corner of the Athletic Club net. Very nice finish.
- Karim Benzema has now scored more goals against Athletic Club (13) than any other side in La Liga.
- Raul Garcia’s red card after 12 minutes and 55 seconds is the earliest shown to an opponent of Real Madrid since March 2007.
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