Karim Benzema was the hero for Real Madrid on Wednesday night as his goal saw Los Blancos beat Athletic Club 1-0 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
The Frenchman’s 40th-minute strike means that Real Madrid have opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the LaLiga Santander table, but it was by no means an easy match for Carlo Ancelotti‘s side.
Real Madrid were made to fight throughout the entire game, and the Italian coach’s decision to only make one change from the side that started against Sevilla last weekend resulted in several players looking tired at times.
Ancelotti tried to address this by bringing on fresh legs in the form of Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga in the latter stages of the game, and the character that Real Madrid showed is evidence of why they are regarded as favourites for the title.
Athletic had a plethora of chances throughout the match, with Inaki Williams, Raul Garcia, Dani Garcia and Oier Zarraga all either missing chances or having them blocked, as was the case on several occasions.
In particular, the Athletic players will be having nightmares about Eder Militao and Thibaut Courtois, as they refused to be beaten and came up big they were needed.
Going forward, Real Madrid did not create as many clear-cut opportunities as the supporters might have liked, but the goal itself showed what they are capable of.
Marco Asensio attempted a shot from the edge of the box that was only parried by Unai Simon, but the ball landed straight at the feet of Luka Modric, who sent it towards Benzema at the first time of asking and he poked it into the back of the net.
Athletic will feel aggrieved to have not even secured a point from a match they had plenty of chances in, but the fight and determination of Real Madrid paid dividends in the end.
1.- Real Madrid: Courtois; Lucas Vazquez (Nacho, min. 80), Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos (Camavinga, min. 80), Modric (Valverde, min. 70); Asensio (Rodrygo, min. 64), Benzema, Vinicius.
0.- Athletic Club: Unai Simon; Lekue (De Marcos, min. 46), Nunez, Yeray, Balenziaga; Zarraga, Dani Garcia (Vesga, min. 82), Vencedor (Nico Williams, min. 63), Muniain (Berenguer, min. 70); Raul Garcia (Sancet, min. 70), Inaki Williams.
Goals: 0-1, min. 40: Benzema.
Referee: Diaz de Mera Escuderos (Ciudad Real).
Yellow cards: Zarraga (min. 31) for Athletic, Lekue (min. 43) for Athletic, Modric (min. 68) for Real Madrid, Casemiro (min. 77) for Real Madrid, Inaki Williams (min. 77) for Athletic.
Red cards: None.
Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu.