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Real Madrid v Athletic Club Live Commentary, 12/1/21

FT
1 - 0
RMA
ATH
K. Benzema (40)
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

Commentary

Madrid keep their spirits high then as they move on to prepare to travel to third-placed Real Sociedad at the weekend. If they can keep grinding out results like this, Atletico will find it hard to defend their title this season. That's all for now. Goodbye!
Madrid's victory takes them seven points clear at the top of LaLiga, although their nearest rivals Atletico Madrid have a game in hand. The hosts had just three shots to Athletic's 12 in the second half but managed to get the job done. Athletic stay eighth in the table. They're now winless in six games but that run will surely end soon.
Benzema's first-half strike proves to be enough to hand Madrid a valuable three points. Ancelotti's men weren't at their best here, especially in the second half, but managed to edge ahead of a feisty Athletic and keep a clean sheet through some last-ditch blocks and solid goalkeeping by Courtois.
90' + 4' FULL-TIME: REAL MADRID 1-0 ATHLETIC BILBAO
90' + 3' Inaki Williams lures Casemiro into fouling him near Madrid's corner flag. Madrid fans will be furious if Athletic score now. Berenguer whips the ball in but Courtois gets a hand to it to push it out of the box. And that's it!
90' + 2' Athletic are continuing to push but it doesn't feel like it will happen for them. Nico Williams' shot from the left of the box is blocked. Vesga nods the ball down for Zarraga who fires wide from outside the area. 
90' Madrid smartly decide to keep the ball, passing all the way back to Courtois. There isn't a teammate near the Belgian though, who has no choice but to punt aimlessly upfield. There'll be three more minutes of this.
88' A few more decent chances fall Athletic's way. Vesga shoots from the left of the box. It's blocked and the visitors get a corner. Berenguer sends it in and Alvarez powers a header wide from close range! This doesn't look like Athletic's day.
86' The offside flag goes up against Madrid. They're finding it harder to create chances with Athletic pushing for that late equalising goal.
84' Athletic huff and puff before finally creating a decent opportunity as Berenguer crosses from the right of the box. Vesga's bullet header from inside the six-yard box is blocked by Militao, who does a great job of keeping his arms by his side. De Marcos accidentally handles the ball and Madrid get a free-kick.
Mikel Vesga
Dani García
Athletic Club
82' Athletic substitution. Off goes Dani Garcia. Vesga replaces him.
Nacho
Lucas Vázquez
Real Madrid
80' Vazquez makes way too. Nacho is his replacement.
E. Camavinga
T. Kroos
Real Madrid
80' Here are those Madrid changes. Camavinga comes on for Kroos first.
79' Madrid are about to make a few more substitutions. If they're wise they'll be looking to start shutting this game down.
Casemiro
Yellow Card
Real Madrid
77' Casemiro is also booked for his reaction to Inaki Williams' foul. Less of that, please.
Williams
Yellow Card
Athletic Club
77' Inaki Williams is shown the yellow card for taking out Casemiro near the Madrid man's corner flag.
76' Courtois makes a vital save to deny Sancet! From the throw-in, the Athletic substitute twists to create some space for himself in the box and blasts straight at the Madrid keeper, who saves low at his near post. That's as close as Athletic have come to an equaliser.
74' Athletic move the ball around, eventually winning a throw-in off Vinicius. The pressure is building on Madrid.
72' Madrid were dominant in the first half but that dominance has eased off now. Athletic have had more shots so far in the second half, mustering five to Madrid's three. None have been on target though.
Oihan Sancet
Raúl García
Athletic Club
70' Here come some more Athletic changes. Sancet replaces the quiet Raul Garcia.
F. Valverde
L. Modrić
Real Madrid
70' Madrid make another change of their own. Valverde takes Modric's place in the centre of the park.
Álex Berenguer
Muniain
Athletic Club
70' Muniain also goes off. Berenguer replaces the Athletic captain in midfield.
69' Muniain floats an inviting free-kick into the path of Balenziaga in the six-yard box. The left-back is just unable to reach it to nod it home. Instead Nunez gets to it and nods wide.
L. Modrić
Yellow Card
Real Madrid
68' Madrid's attack breaks down and Athletic race upfield on the counter. Modric cannily stops Inaki Williams in his tracks to concede a free-kick. The Croatian is booked for the blatant tactical foul.
66' Madrid are pushing for a second goal but are finding Athletic hard to break down. Eventually the hosts get a corner as Balenziaga nods Vazquez's piledriver out of play.
Rodrygo
Asensio
Real Madrid
64' Madrid make their first substitution of the game too. Rodrygo replaces Asensio.
Nico Williams
Unai Vencedor
Athletic Club
63' Athletic make another change. Nico Williams comes on for Vencedor.
62' Inaki Williams buys Athletic another corner down their right. It's sent towards the far post and put back into the danger area for Raul Garcia whose tame header loops onto the roof of the net.
61' Athletic can't do anything with the corner and end up giving a free-kick away. Madrid can't afford to switch off while they lead just by one goal.
59' Modric is unhappy to be penalised for handball. The free-kick nearly ends extremely well for Athletic, who dart upfield. Madrid's defence somehow parts and Raul Garcia's blast from inside the box is blocked by a diving Vazquez! Athletic have to settle for a corner.
58' Athletic try to pin Madrid into their defensive third. The visitors can't break down Madrid's defence though, as Inaki Williams' cross from the byline is blocked. Athletic keep coming and Williams fires a low shot towards the bottom left corner which is easily caught by Courtois.
57' Vazquez has a similar attempt on goal to Kroos' chance a few moments ago. It's a little closer to goal and a little more off-target.
55' Modric backheels a pass inside for Kroos, setting the German up nicely to shoot from outside the box. Kroos does so, sending the ball whiskers wide of the top right corner.
53' Asensio's caught offside from Vazquez's throughball. Up the other end, Raul Garcia earns Athletic a corner which is a non-event.
51' Benzema tries to create space on the edge on the penalty area. He can't get past Athletic's defenders though. Seconds later, Vinicius looks through on goal until De Marcos manages to catch up and win the ball
49' Madrid fling a cross into Athletic's box from their right. De Marcos gets a push from Benzema at the far post and theatrically tumbles to the turf. The referee awards Athletic a free-kick. Ancelotti throws his arms up dismissively to show what he thinks of the decision.
48' Zarraga beats his man and flashes an effort across goal from the right of the box. It whizzes past Courtois and out of play.
46' The second half gets underway. Madrid have resisted making any changes.
De Marcos
Lekue
Athletic Club
46' Athletic make a change at half-time. De Marcos replaces Lekue. Vinicius gave the right-back a torrid time in the first half.
Athletic boss Marcelino failed to win any of his four previous games in LaLiga against Ancelotti's Madrid while Valencia manager. That run looks to be stretching to five games at the moment. Athletic aren't down and out here though, if they can put Madrid under a bit more pressure in the second half.
Madrid lead at the break thanks to Benzema's predatory finish. The hosts have had the better of the play, forcing Simon to make a few decent saves. However, Athletic do work hard and have forced Ancelotti's men into a few mistakes. This is by no means over yet.
45' + 1' HALF-TIME: REAL MADRID 1-0 ATHLETIC BILBAO
45' There's one minute of additional time at the end of this half. Madrid get a corner off Lekue. Athletic stand firm though and keep the deficit to just a single goal. That's that for now.
44' From Madrid's free-kick Vazquez fires high and wide from outside the box. Madrid will be pleased with having taken the lead despite being made to work in this first half.
Lekue
Yellow Card
Athletic Club
43' Lekue lands his name in the book for a poorly timed challenge on Vinicius. Athletic risk losing their cool before half-time.
42' Athletic look to level things up right away. Muniain gets into the box and has a shot blocked.
41' That's Benzema's 14th goal in 24 league appearances against Athletic. He's scored as many goals against the Basques now as he has against Granada, the joint-most he's scored against any opponent in LaLiga.
L. Modrić
Assist
Real Madrid
40' There's no way that Modric meant that assist but the Croatian will surely take it. It worked out perfectly for Madrid in the end as Simon was stranded, having dove the wrong way to stop the shot he was actually expecting.
K. Benzema
Goal
Real Madrid
40' GOAL! REAL MADRID 1-0 ATHLETIC BILBAO! Benzema gives Madrid the lead with a poacher's finish! Madrid's slick build-up play leads to Simon saving Asensio's shot. The Athletic keeper can only parry it to Modric who miskicks the rebound. It lands nicely for the Frenchman who prods it into the net.
39' Kroos has another crack at goal from distance, this one a dipping effort that Simon has to tip up into the air to control at the second time of asking.
38' Mendy blocks Lekue's cross. Athletic get a throw-in which they can't create anything from. Still, the visitors aren't making life easy for Madrid.
37' Now it's Madrid's turn to attack. Kroos' pure shot from range lands right into the arms of Simon.
36' Athletic break forward and Zarraga fires in a cross from the right. It flies past everyone in the box and out for a Madrid throw-in on the opposite side.
34' Madrid will have to do some thinking here. Simon claims a lazy ball over the top for Benzema.
32' Modric twists and turns just outside the penalty area and blasts a shot against his own teammate. Inaki Williams wriggles his way into the right side of Madrid's box. His effort deflects out to earn Athletic a corner, from which Nunez heads over.
Oier Zarraga
Yellow Card
Athletic Club
31' Zarraga is shown the game's first yellow card for arriving late on Vinicius after the ball has gone. It's a clumsy challenge and a deserved booking.
29' Benzema lashes wide of Simon's right-hand post in anger from some way out. Madrid soon win another corner. Again, nothing comes of it.
27' Muniain's free-kick comes in. Raul Garcia's diving header from inside the six-yard box is good but Courtois gets down low quick enough to keep it out! That looked destined to be an Athletic opening goal.
26' Simon catches Asensio's routine shot from outside the box before Mendy has a shot blocked and Athletic get a free-kick in the final third. Madrid are starting to find things tougher than they did at the start of the half.
24' Madrid clear the corner but get a lucky escape! Alaba misjudges another direct Athletic ball on the edge of his box, allowing Inaki Williams to reach the bouncing ball and test Courtois. Williams can't keep his composure though and he slashes hurriedly off-target.
23' Chance for Athletic! Inaki Williams takes advantage of Militao's inadvertent flick-on of a ball over the top to blast towards goal from inside the box. It deflects just wide of the right-hand corner and out for an Athletic corner.
22' Athletic are growing into the game. Vazquez loses possession to the covering Muniain and promptly fouls the Athletic captain.
20' Inaki Williams chests the ball down in the box and fires straight at the onrushing Courtois. The offside flag goes up anyway.
18' Mendy nudges over Raul Garcia, handing Athletic a free-kick near the corner flag. It's floated in and Lekue smashes well wide on the rebound from distance. That's nothing for Courtois to be concerned about.
16' Madrid get another corner which Athletic hook away. Alaba slides to the turf to block a promising throughball. The visitors get a throw-in down their right.
15' Asensio has a crack at goal from outside the box only for an Athletic man to get in the way. Madrid keep the ball moving and Athletic clear Modric's cross from the flank. Courtois nods clear with Raul Garcia lurking up the other end.
14' Madrid appeal for a penalty as Balenziaga intercepts Vazquez's cross from the right. The referee isn't interested.
12' Madrid take the corner short and Vinicius and Benzema one-two their way to the byline. Benzema looks to beat Simon from a tight angle but the Athletic goalkeeper makes himself big to block.
10' Lekue trips Mendy near the halfway line and Madrid are awarded a free-kick. Ancelotti's men work the ball forward and get another corner.
8' Madrid force another early corner off Alvarez. It comes to nothing, but the hosts have started brightly.
6' Vinicius cuts inside onto his right foot and dinks an inviting cross towards Benzema who's rushing towards the far post. The Madrid captain pokes the ball towards goal from close range and Simon anticipates it well to push the shot aside.
4' Madrid earn their first corner as Balenziaga blocks Asensio's left-footed drive from the right of the box. Athletic clear the corner without much incident.
2' Madrid enjoy their first attack of the game. Vinicius dribbles towards the box from the left. The Brazilian passes inside to Kroos who smacks a shot against an Athletic defender.
1' Athletic get this midweek game underway!
The two teams are on the pitch in Madrid. Madrid are wearing their usual all-white home kit. Athletic will play in their preferred red and white striped shirts and black shorts.
Madrid are unbeaten in their last 12 LaLiga games against Athletic. If the hosts avoid defeat here, they'll set the best unbeaten run against them in the top flight. Atletico have drawn two of their last four visits to the Santiago Bernabeu though after losing each of their previous 12. Can the Basques get another positive result this time?
There's just one change to Madrid from their 2-1 home win over Sevilla last weekend. Vazquez replaces Carvajal at right-back. Athletic make three changes from their 2-2 draw with Granada. Nunez, Zarraga and Inigo Williams come in for Nico Williams, Sancet and the suspended Inigo Martinez.
SUBS: Nico Williams, Alex Petxarroman Eizagirre, Oihan Sancet, Ander Capa, Mikel Vesga, Nicolas Serrano, Alex Berenguer, Oscar De Marcos, Julen Agirrezabala, Aitor Paredes, Jon Morcillo.
ATHLETIC BILBAO (4-4-2): Unai Simon; Inigo Lekue, Unai Nunez, Yeray Alvarez, Mikel Balenziaga; Oier Zarraga, Dani Garcia, Unai Vencedor, Iker Muniain (c); Raul Garcia, Inaki Williams.
SUBS: Nacho, Jesus Vallejo, Daniel Carvajal, Luka Jovic, Federico Valverde, Isco, Mariano, Marcelo, Andriy Lunin, Eden Hazard, Eduardo Camavinga, Rodrygo.
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Lucas Vazquez, Eder Militao, David Alaba, Ferland Mendy; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric; Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema (c), Vinicius Junior.
Athletic sit eighth in LaLiga after failing to win any of their last five matches. Los Leones have drawn more games than anyone else in the division so far this season. They surely wouldn't say no to picking up another point here.
League leaders Madrid come into this game four points clear at the top of the table having won their last four league matches in a row. Carlo Ancelotti will be keen for his side to keep up their momentum ahead of a busy festive period.
Hello! Welcome to our live text commentary of this LaLiga match between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu.