Real Madrid - Athletic Bilbao: hat-trick hero Benzema gives Madrid comfortable win
Karim Benzeman netted three second-half goals against Athletic to restore the gap with second-placed Atlético Madrid to four points.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao: match report
Real Madrid comfortably saw off Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabéu thanks to a second-half hat-trick from Karim Benzema, who has now scored eight of Los Blancos' last eight goals.
After a rather uneventful first half, in which Madrid were on top but only had two shots on goal, Benzema opened the scoring just one minute after the break with a headed goal assisted by Asensio -- the Spaniard playing a pin-point cross in from the left following a quick counter attack started by Dani Carvajal. It took 30 minutes for the Frenchman to net his second – again scoring with his head after Modric gave the perfect corner delivery from the right.
Athletic star man Iñaki Williams was off colour on the occasion but almost clawed one back for the visitors. And it took a fine save from Navas to keep his close-range header out of the net.
Four minutes later and one minute into injury time, Benzema had his third, capitalising on a major blunder by Athletic keeper Herrerin, who came dashing out of his box to collect a long ball played from deep. But the Leones number one made an absolute shambles of it, allowing substitute Gareth Bale to quickly latch onto the loose ball. The Welshman played a short pass to Benzema, who coolly side-footed it past Herrerin as he desperately tried to scramble back towards his goal.
And that was to be the last action of the game, as Madrid ran in 3-0 winners, restoring the gap with second-placed Atlético Madrid to four points. The two Madrid clubs have no chance of catching leaders Barcelona at this point and are just left to battle it out for second place to claim bragging rights in the capital. Athletic, meanwhile, suffered a set back with the Bernabéu defeat but remain in the running for a top six spot to secure Europa League football next season.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao: as it happened
Real of course have nothing left to play for this season so the final few games are only relevant on two fronts (or three, if you count finishing second in LaLiga). One, Karim Benzema is out to beat his own personal record of 32 goals in a single season for Madrid and two, for Zidane to decide who will stay and who will go this summer. After the season they've had, and despite the Frenchman's protestation to the contrary, it will probably be quite a clear out.
Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of this afternoon's game between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao from the Santiago Bernabéu.