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Athletic Club v Real Madrid Live Commentary, 22/01/2023

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K. Benzema (24)
T. Kroos (90)
San Mamés Barria


We hope you have enjoyed our live coverage of an entertaining affair at San Mames. It's goodbye from us, and we hope to see you again soon!
Athletic put their visitors under plenty of pressure but ultimately lacked a killer instinct in front of goal, with the offside flag correctly denying Inaki Williams a potential leveller in the second half. Valverde's men stay eighth following a fourth league game without a win, while Real Madrid are still within touching distance of Barcelona in an enthralling title race!
It's full-time at San Mames, and Real Madrid have passed a serious test of their LaLiga credentials with flying colours! Two outstanding goals from two of Los Blancos' most experienced players were enough, with Benzema giving them the lead with a brilliant volley on the turn before Kroos made victory safe with a long-range effort at the death. It's back-to-back wins for Carlo Ancelotti's men, who have responded to last week's Supercopa de Espana loss to Barcelona in style.
90' + 2' Four minutes of stoppage time have been added on here, but that will not be enough for Athletic to salvage anything. Madrid are about to move back to within three points of Barcelona!
Real Madrid
90' Rodrygo charges forward, playing a neat one-two with Valverde before picking out Kroos. The pass wasn't perfect, but it doesn't matter as the midfielder fires the ball beyond Simon from 20 yards out!
T. Kroos
Real Madrid
90' GOAAAL! IT'S SURELY GAME OVER AS KROOS GETS REAL MADRID'S SECOND! Kroos plays the role of super sub to seal victory for Los Blancos! Rodrygo breaks forward to exchange passes with Valverde, before cutting the ball back for Kroos on the edge of the area. The pass is slightly behind the midfielder, but he produces an excellent finish to find the bottom-right corner! 2-0!
89' Kroos appears to lose the flight of the ball before Nico Williams just fails to keep it in play. Madrid can waste some valuable seconds with a throw-in.
89' Inaki Williams is fouled by Kroos as we enter the final minute of the 90. Can Athletic conjure something from this set-piece?
Ander Herrera
Yellow Card
Athletic Club
88' Herrera is booked for that foul on Camavinga, before the free-kick is flicked harmlessly wide by Benzema.
87' Modric almost allows Inaki Williams to steal possession before Camavinga breaks in rapid fashion. The France international has been excellent here, and he wins Madrid a free-kick by tempting Herrera into a foul.
Raúl García
Mikel Vesga
Athletic Club
86' Physical forward Raul Garcia is on for Vesga. Athletic will look to pick out the striker at every opportunity now.
T. Kroos
Dani Ceballos
Real Madrid
85' Kroos replaces Ceballos in Madrid's midfield as Ancelotti attempts to shore things up.
84' Madrid have hardly had a kick since Modric entered the fray, with Athletic working the ball patiently in the visitors' half. However, time is running out for Valverde's men.
Vinícius Júnior
Real Madrid
83' With Vinicius having been booked, Ancelotti replaces him with fellow Brazil attacker Rodrygo.
81' This time Athletic take a short corner, before Madrid clear their lines. The hosts are finally exerting some sustained pressure, can Madrid see this result through?
80' How have Athletic not equalised? The hosts win two corners in quick succession, the second of which is flicked on by Paredes at the near post, beating Courtois. Camavinga does brilliantly to get onto the line and head it clear, before Nico Williams sees a shot deflect over.
Vinícius Júnior
Yellow Card
Real Madrid
79' Vinicius is booked for a late challenge on halfway as Madrid begin to sit deeper.
78' GOAAAAAL! ATHLETIC HAVE THE BALL IN THE NET… BUT WAIT, THE FLAG IS UP! The corner is cleared to the edge of the area, where Yuri is lurking for a low strike which is saved by Courtois. The rebound hits Guruzeta before Inaki Williams converts, but the former is correctly ruled offside!
76' Lekue's first involvement sees him win a corner following a positive run which pushes Mendy back. That's a positive contribution from the versatile full-back.
De Marcos
Athletic Club
76' Lekue becomes the fourth player introduced by Valverde, replacing De Marcos at right-back.
75' Guruzeta latches onto Herrera's ball in behind and sees his shot deflected wide by Rudiger. Guruzeta then meets Muniain's set-piece delivery, but he heads wide from an awkward angle.
L. Modrić
Marco Asensio
Real Madrid
73' Modric is the first substitute introduced by Ancelotti, replacing Asensio.
73' Muniain is down following a late challenge from Nacho near the corner flag. The referee denies Athletic a free-kick, however, much to the home fans' annoyance.
71' Madrid have controlled long periods of this game after Athletic's flying start, but that chance shows the threat the hosts still carry. Ancelotti is preparing to bring on Modric, in a bid to see this result through.
69' WHAT A CHANCE! That is surely Athletic's best opening yet! Nico Williams pops up at the back post after his brother Inaki is unable to reach a left-wing cross. The 20-year-old has time to bring the ball down just 10 yards from goal, but he completely mishits his shot, and it dribbles wide!
Oihan Sancet
Athletic Club
67' Finally, club captain Muniain enters the action in Sancet's place. Does he hold the key to unlocking Madrid's defence?
Gorka Guruzeta
Álex Berenguer
Athletic Club
67' Guruzeta is also on for Athletic, replacing the disappointing Berenguer.
Ander Herrera
Oier Zarraga
Athletic Club
67' Herrera is on in midfield, replacing Zarraga as Valverde opts to introduce some more experience.
66' SO CLOSE! Madrid should be 2-0 up! Valverde and Benzema exchange passes down the right, before the Ballon d'Or holder slips an excellent reverse pass into Asensio's path. Asensio only has Simon to beat, but he drags his low effort wide!
63' Athletic have certainly improved on their meek showing in the final 20 minutes of the first half, but they are yet to test Courtois since the restart. Valverde seems to be readying a series of substitutions.
E. Camavinga
Yellow Card
Real Madrid
62' Camavinga makes a late challenge on Yuri, and the France international becomes the first visiting player to be booked.
61' Good block from Nacho! A terrible pass from Asensio gifts Athletic possession, and Berenguer does well to make space for a shot as he cuts in from the left. Nacho is well placed to block, however, before the referee waves away a muted penalty appeal from Inaki Williams.
59' SAVE! Madrid work the ball to Vinicius, whose left-wing cross leads to a manic scramble in the area. Nacho sees one close-range effort blocked, before his second is straight at Simon. The Madrid defender should have done better there, having found some space near the edge of the six-yard box.
Dani Vivian
Yellow Card
Athletic Club
58' Vivian's challenge on Mendy is late, and it earns the Athletic defender a yellow card. Madrid have a free-kick on the left, at least 30 yards from goal.
57' Athletic have managed seven shots to Madrid's five so far, but they are yet to carve out a clear-cut chance. Nico Williams concedes a cheap foul on Vinicius in the visitors' half, allowing them to escape with the ball.
55' Inaki Williams now drives inside from the left wing to win a corner, but the kick comes to nothing.
54' Vinicius showboats after receiving a pass in space on the left, juggling the ball with no opponent near him. The home fans are irritated, and that irritation turns to fury as Inaki Williams is denied a free-kick following a challenge from Rudiger.
52' The corner – as well as Nico Williams' second delivery – comes to nothing, but Madrid are unable to get out for now, as Athletic sustain their attack.
51' Athletic have not started the second half with the same energy they displayed at the beginning of the opening period, but they are at least getting on the front foot, as Nico Williams earns a corner on the right.
Yellow Card
Athletic Club
50' Yuri is shown the first yellow card of the game after dragging Asensio down in midfield.
48' Rudiger is on hand to make a fine interception ahead of Berenguer as De Marcos drills a low cross into the area. The offside flag eventually goes up, but Rudiger had to make sure.
47' Benzema's goal was his 228th for Madrid in LaLiga, matching the tally managed by legendary forward Raul. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (311) has now found the net more often in the competition for Los Blancos.
46' There are no changes in personnel as Madrid get us under way for the second half. Can they kick on to claim a vital win?
As it stands, Real Madrid are set to close the gap to LaLiga leaders Barcelona to three points, following the Blaugrana's win over Getafe. However, if Athletic can rediscover the intensity they started the match with, this contest is far from over. Inaki Williams and younger brother Nico have both been lively, and they could yet deal a blow to Madrid's title defence.
The referee blows for half-time, and Benzema's terrific volley is the difference between the teams at the interval. Real Madrid had to weather a storm early on as Athletic pressed high and created several half-chances, but Benzema's left-footed strike took the wind out of the hosts' sails. Carlo Ancelotti's men have improved since going ahead, and are good value for their lead.
45' We're into one minute of stoppage time at San Mames as Madrid win a throw on the right wing.
44' Vesga drills a low effort well wide from 25 yards out. The midfielder is claiming Camavinga caught him as he took the shot, but the referee says no.
43' Excellent work from Inaki Williams, who steps in to end a long spell of Madrid possession before charging forward down the left. Vinicius is eventually penalised for holding him back, and the Brazil winger is perhaps lucky not to be booked.
40' Yuri receives treatment after going down with nobody around him. The Athletic full-back is now back on his feet, and he should be fine to continue.
39' Madrid win a free-kick as Berenguer fouls Camavinga. The home crowd is beginning to grow frustrated, with Athletic having nothing to show for their encouraging start.
38' Zarraga wins a corner on the right wing, but the delivery is poor and Vivian is unable to keep it alive as Madrid clear their lines.
36' In truth, Athletic's threat has totally evaporated since Benzema's outstanding strike. Yuri's cross is blocked by Nacho, before Camavinga is on hand to conduct some fine defensive work, stopping Sancet in his tracks.
34' Nacho is penalised for a foul on Berenguer high up the pitch, allowing Athletic to recover possession. The hosts come forward, but Nacho is then on hand to head another right-wing cross away.
32' De Marcos whips a decent ball towards the six-yard box, where Militao heads clear. Vinicius then concedes a free-kick on halfway as Athletic attempt to rediscover their attacking threat.
30' The goal has certainly lifted Madrid, who are escaping Athletic's press with much greater ease now. Nacho's cut-back gives Camavinga the chance to shoot… but his effort is straight at Simon.
28' Benzema has now scored 17 goals in 26 games against Athletic in LaLiga, more than he has against any other opponent.
26' Athletic have been excellent so far, but there was no stopping that from Benzema. Can the hosts respond?
Marco Asensio
Real Madrid
24' Asensio will be credited with an assist, having inadvertently headed a pass down for Benzema. However, the striker must take all the credit as he turned on the ball, firing beyond Simon in one motion. What a finish!
K. Benzema
Real Madrid
24' WHAT A GOAL! MADRID LEAD 1-0 AND BENZEMA IS THE SCORER! Wow, what a finish from the Frenchman! Athletic have created plenty of chances so far, but they are left stunned by a left-footed volley from Benzema. Valverde's lofted ball is headed down by Asensio, but Benzema makes light work of a poor lay-off by swivelling and firing into the bottom-right corner!
22' ANOTHER CHANCE ON THE BREAK! Nacho is unable to turn the corner goalwards, and the hosts hit Madrid on the break once again. Inaki races beyond Courtois, but the angle is narrow, and his right-footed effort only hits the side-netting.
21' Madrid win another corner, this time on the left, as Vinicius' clever pass towards Mendy is just about cut out. It's been a very entertaining start at San Mames.
19' Madrid's corner comes to nothing, before Asensio goes down under the challenge of Yuri. The Athletic full-back is probably fortunate not to have been penalised there, but replays show the incident took place outside the box, so there's nothing VAR can do.
18' Madrid come forward as Ceballos curls an outstanding ball into Nacho's path. The right-back cuts the ball back towards Benzema, and Paredes blocks his shot behind for a corner.
17' CLOSE! Inaki Williams bends a left-footed effort just wide of Courtois' right-hand post after a neat turn allows him to beat Militao. The Williams brothers are really threatening Madrid so far, and they linked up effectively on the right to create that half-chance.
14' Athletic break again, and Inaki Williams comes close to picking out his brother Nico with a right-wing cross. Nacho does well to head it clear, before Ceballos eases the pressure by drawing a foul from Zarraga.
12' Athletic have shown a willingness to press high early on, as De Marcos fouls Mendy near Real Madrid's area. Los Blancos have been forced back so far, but there is plenty of space to exploit if they can beat the press.
10' Courtois makes the save! Athletic work the corner to Berenguer, whose cross is nodded goalwards by Paredes. It may have been going wide anyway, but Courtois makes sure by pushing it away!
9' An excellent break from Athletic leads to another corner. Madrid see a long spell of possession broken up by De Marcos, before Inaki Williams looks to dart beyond Militao. The defender puts it behind to gift Athletic a set-piece.
7' Benzema has the first attempt of the game! Athletic have been on top so far, but Vinicius offers a reminder of his threat by threading a neat ball in behind for Mendy. His cut-back is met by the Ballon d'Or winner, but his left-footed effort goes well over the crossbar.
6' Athletic coach Valverde has not lost any of his last five games against Real Madrid in LaLiga (W3, D2) – although all of those contests came during his time with Barcelona. Could his current team do his former club a huge favour here?
5' Barcelona were able to move six points clear at the LaLiga summit with a 1-0 win over Getafe earlier on despite putting in a disjointed performance. Madrid will have to be much better if they are to cut that gap again, if the opening minutes are anything to go by.
3' Athletic are dominating possession early on, but Nico Williams is unable to get his cross away under pressure from Mendy, allowing Madrid to calm things down with a goal-kick.
2' Paredes flicks on Sancet's delivery on his full debut, but there is no red and white shirt there to convert at the back post. The hosts keep the attack alive, however, and Militao is forced to head Inaki Williams' cross clear.
1' Athletic make a fast start as De Marcos wins an early corner off Mendy!
1' The hosts get the ball rolling. The latest instalment of one of Spain's most historic fixtures is under way!
The teams are out at San Mames, where there is always a fabulous atmosphere when Real Madrid come to town! Kick-off is moments away.
Athletic have not won any of their last 14 games against Real Madrid in LaLiga (D4, L10), losing each of the last five – this is their longest winless streak against them in their top-flight history. However, with the European champions only winning one of their last four matches excluding penalty shoot-outs, could the hosts be set to spring a surprise?
Ancelotti, meanwhile, leaves experienced midfield duo Kroos and Modric on the bench, introducing Ceballos after he struck a late winner in Thursday's Copa del Rey win at Villarreal. Valverde looks likely to play a more withdrawn role alongside Ceballos and Camavinga, with Asensio joining Benzema and Vinicius in attack.
Ernesto Valverde makes three changes to the Athletic team which beat Espanyol in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, bringing in Inaki Williams in attack and Simon in goal. Meanwhile, with Yeray Alvarez suspended, 22-year-old defender Aitor Paredes makes his first start in LaLiga. It's sure to be a baptism of fire for him, as he is tasked with handling Ballon d'Or winner Benzema.
REAL MADRID SUBS: Andriy Lunin, Luis Lopez, Jesus Vallejo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Alvaro Odriozola, Rodrygo, Mariano Diaz.
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Nacho, Antonio Rudiger, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy; Dani Ceballos, Eduardo Camavinga, Federico Valverde; Vinicius Junior, Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio.
ATHLETIC BILBAO SUBS: Julen Agirrezabala, Jon Morcillo, Iker Muniain, Gorka Guruzeta, Dani Garcia, Inigo Lekue, Unai Vencedor, Asier Villalibre, Ander Capa, Raul Garcia, Ander Herrera, Mikel Balenziaga.
ATHLETIC BILBAO (4-2-3-1): Unai Simon; Oscar de Marcos, Aitor Paredes, Dani Vivian, Yuri Berchiche; Oier Zarraga, Mikel Vesga; Alex Berenguer, Oihan Sancet, Nico Williams; Inaki Williams.
Real Madrid have been heavily criticised following an inconsistent run since returning from the World Cup break. With Barcelona moving six points clear at the LaLiga summit with a 1-0 win against Getafe, Carlo Ancelotti's men need a response – but a trip to San Mames to face eighth-placed Athletic Bilbao will provide them with a stern test!
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Real Madrid's trip to Athletic Bilbao, as Los Blancos look to close the gap to LaLiga leaders Barcelona!