Real Madrid 3-1 Athletic Club, results, summary and goals: LaLiga 2020-21
Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: as it happened
On the whistle match report
Real Madrid were made to toil by the 10 men of Athletic Bilbao but eventually won 3-1 on Tuesday thanks to two strikes from Karim Benzema to go level on points with La Liga leaders Real Sociedad. Athletic forward Raúl García was sent off in the 13th minute for a second booking, but Real only managed to take the lead right at the end of the first half thanks to a low drive from Toni Kroos.
The Basque side continued to cope well with their numerical disadvantage into the second half and grabbed an equaliser through Ander Capa in the 52nd minute before Benzema managed to head the champions back in front in the 74th. Athletic substitute Mikel Vesga then had a glorious chance to equalise in added time but was thwarted by an outstanding save from Thibaut Courtois and Benzema killed the game off by finishing on the counter-attack immediately after.
A third consecutive league win took third-placed Real on to 26 points after 13 games, level with second-placed Atletico Madrid and leaders Real Sociedad but having played two games more than Atletico. Athletic are 13th on 14 points. Real had enjoyed a remarkable last week, beating Sevilla and Borussia Moenchengladbach before a comprehensive 2-0 win over local rivals Atletico to ease the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane after a stuttering start to the campaign. The Frenchman made only one change to the starting 11 that had beaten Atlético, bringing in Federico Valverde for the suspended Casemiro, and his side's heroic recent efforts seemed to have taken their toll in the early stages of the game. Athletic, meanwhile, made an energetic and aggressive start and could have had a penalty when Inaki Williams was pushed over in the area by Dani Carvajal.
Moments later, they were down to 10 men after Garcia charged into a tackle on Kroos and was deservedly shown a second yellow card. Madrid really struggled to take advantage but their quality eventually shone through.
Reporting by Richard Martin
WATCH | Benzema brace
(For US viewers only)
Madrid join the league leaders
Atlético will point to their games in hand, but moving level at the top, after a fourth consecutive win, was an important statement from Zidane and co.
Second and third goalscorer: Benzema stats
First goalscorer: Kroos stats
"We stood tall till the very end. Courtois won it. The effort made by the whole team was incredible. It's a shame because everything seems to be going against us. I didn't see Raul Garcia's foul, but it was very early in the game.
"I don't know if everyone is dealt with the same. That conditioned the match because it's really tough to win with ten men."
"We were on a positive run, the team worked well. The victory allows us to keep growing. They defended well. The coach tweaked things at half-time and in the second half we were able to change.
"The team got control of the game. We are good, we are pleased. We are a united team."
Peep, peep, peeeeep! The whistle blows and Real Madrid have all three points.
We've got three minutes to go
CHANCE! Rodrygo is sent running into acress of space down the right channel and is then supported by Isco.
The Málaga lad can't take the ball in his stride, albeit it in a tight space, and the shooting opportunity is lost. He'll be disappointed not to have done better.
A corner leads to another but the latter is lofted into the area and Courtois comes out majestically to claim high.
Ramos doing what he's great at: meeting a corner with his head and getting it away.
The Bilbao side though are not done and work it neatly into a shooting position for Cordoba. Deflected wide for another corner.
Cordoba plays a lovely pass into the Madrid area but Modric is back there working hard to help his teammates. The Croatian then gives the ball away needlessly and it's a corner to the visitors.
Iker Muniain is on for De Marcos as Athletic chase a point
Lekue also on in place of Capa
Alvarez foul rewarded with a card.
Mr Chip informs us that Benzema has now scored 28 goals with his head in LaLiga, and only four other players have more (including his captain tonight, and former teammate Cristiano)
Third change from Zidane: Rodrygo comes on for Lucas
Dangerous ball rolled across the Athletic goal mouth from Asensio but there's nobody to get on the end of it.
Corner won from the clearance.
Lucas and Isco try some quick passing to open up the Athletic defense but a mixture of stray backheel and standing in an offside position makes it too easy for the visitors.
Slack from Modric there.
A nice passage of neat interplay brought to an end with the Croatian drifting into an offside position unnecessarily.
Zidane the manager needs to show his worth here...
Williams and Vencedor OFF for Athletic
Villalibre and Vesga ON
SAVE! Kroos tries his luck again from distance.
Modric feeding him this time with clear purpose and the German, being side on to it, has to force the shot with the inside of his boot. Comfy save for Simon.
Vinicius and Valverde are heading OFF
Asensio and Isco coming ON
Madrid now with the bulk of the play, and much of it in the final third. Modric looks even keener to get on the ball and start to get his side ticking.
Some changes coming up from Zidane to help with that.
Post-goal change | Berenguer replaced by Inigo Cordoba
This is not entirely true but Dermot makes a fair point that the captain will not need a second invitation to head forwards now.
I'd suggest he should focus on his main job of defending.
Madrid look to respond immediately and Vinicius has the ball in the net. Before the celebrations begin, however, the players glance towards the assistant and see the checked flag held high.
Williams plays a sharp through ball ahead of him but De Marcos can't reach it in front of Courtois.
More controlled possession from Los Leones, working the play from left to right and back again. Nothing comes of it but it's a positive start from the 10 men.
Corner to Athletic, won on the right off Mendy after good pressure.
The first ball in is not cleared well but the home side get it away at the third attempt.
The visitors get the ball rolling but they immediately give up possession and Madrid win a corner from it.
It's taken short, but then swung in by Kroos. Sergio Ramos rises highest and heads over but the ref blows for a foul by the captain as he challenged.
Peeep! We're off.
OK. Time for the second half. What can Athletic do to get back into this.
We're about to find out...
The early minutes of this game suggested that Athletic were going to take the game to the league champions. A high press was causing a few problems from the home defence and there was a nice balanced feel to proceedings.
Then, in just five minutes, Raúl García picked up two yellow cards and the flow of the match, in the main, changed.
Despite more play in favour of the hosts, they struggled to take full advantage of the extra man. And then, just as it looked as if we'd be heading into the break goalless, Vinicius played the pass to the oncoming Kroos and the non-crowd went wild.
And the whistle blows for half-time
Kroos gives Madrid the lead
The pressure had been building but this was only a half chance, in truth, but one we've seen before.
The German saw the ball rolled out to him a few yards outside the area and as he stepped onto it you could sense what was coming. A sweet strike through the laces and it flew low into the bottom left corner. Simon at full stretch could get there in time.
We'll have two minutes added time. Will we be going in level?
Lucas into the book for a rash challenge.
CHANCE!! Another golden one for Madrid to open the scoring.
The ball is challenged for on the edge of the six-yard box and drops to Valverde who himself is falling to the ground. He throws out a boot but then watches the ball slide wide of the post.
Madrid are getting closer.
SAVE! Vini again involved, latching onto a glanced header from Valverde.
But from three yards out he hits it straight at Simon.
A burst of pace from Vinicius down the left touchline leaves Capa for dead.
But then as he looks to get in behind the defender and run in on goal - you may have heard this before - his control lets him down and the ball bounces away for a goal kick.
Danger! Capa is deep on the right and fires across a low ball which almost finds Williams in the centre. Well read and cleared.
Advice needed. They may have the man advantage but Madrid are struggling to make any clear-cut chances.
Maybe Zizou has an idea.
Vini again involved. Lucas finds him on the right and as the youngster cuts in he takes a swing from just outside the area. High and wide.
Vinicius and Mendy work the ball between themselves on the left of the opposition box. Modric joins in the patient play, and then Lucas gets on the end of a pass on the inside left.
The winger uses Kroos on the edge, and then the German switches it quickly to the overlapping Carvajal on the right, but it's well behind him and rolls out for a throw.
A little breather for the Basque side as they stretch the play up the other end.
A free kick is delivered into the crowded Madrid area and from that they have another chance from a corner. Berenguer's inswinger is a gift for Courtois to come out and claim under no pressure.
Lucas has a chance to cross and only wins a corner from it. That's taken by Kroos and again the defence is solid and gets the ball away from the danger zone.
Excellent play from Benzema again.
Yuri is bamboozled by the quick feet of the Frenchman who initially trapped the ball with the outside of his right boot, before dropping a couple of shoulders and slipping between two red and white shirts.
He shoots but a third covering defender gets in the way.
Benzema almost breaks free to run at goal but play is brought back for a foul. The striker ain't too happy about that.
Stinging shot from Modric is deflected wide and Madrid line up for a corner. The threat is quickly dealt with by the visitors but it now feels that it's going to be a long night for them.
I wanted to share this graphic with you, posted earlier by Robbie Dunne with a focus on Sevilla.
As the early part of this game showed, Athletic have been pressing a lot in the attacking third. That, however, may be shot for tonight after García's actions.
Penalty shout from Madrid players as Vinicius goes down in the area. Louder shouts coming from all the Athletic defenders telling Gil Manzano to book the Brazilian for simulation.
The visitors were utterly correct. That's very poor from Vini and he's escaped a yellow.
Remember that early yellow for Raúl García? Remember the thinking that he'll need to be careful? He wasn't.
A really poor stretch into Kroos' foot is a simple decision for the ref. A second booking and he's off!
Williams gets in again, this time running through the middle. He tries to poke an effort around Courtois but is under pressure and pushes it just wide.
Madrid pushing here and a great ball in behind the defence from Modric finds his French striker at the back post.
There's a choice to be made but he tries to drill it home from an angle that would have Pythagoras reaching for his instruments. Needless to say no goal!
Raúl García is the first to see his name be taken by Gil Manzano. He'll have to watch himself now.
CHANCE! First real chance falls to De Marcos.
A nicely swung delivery from Williams out wide is met by the head of the 31-year old but he gets it all wrong. 50p piece and all that.
Benzema is sent free down the left and tries to trick his way to creating space for a cross. He's closed down, watched carefully and Athletic bring it away.
Williams again causing some discomfort for Madrid's back-line. The Spaniard gets a shot away from inside the area but it's well blocked.
Benzema knocks the ball back and the hosts look to get a few relaxed touches in early. That's not allowed though as red and white shirts press high and Williams wins it back.
Nothing created but a clear sign of intent.
Peeep! Real Madrid get us going
Teams are out, the Hala Madrid anthem bellows out and it's almost time...
It's worth pointing out that this game relates to the 19th round of fixtures in LaLiga Santander. 'Why on earth would that be?' I hear you ask, as you note that these sides have only played 12 matches thus far.
Well, with Athletic still to play in last season's postponed Copa del Rey final, getting this one out of the way makes space for it.
Right, not long to go now. The players are slowly gathering in the tunnel and will be out on the pitch in a few moments.
Form guide: Athletic
Two wins, two draws and two losses. It's as much of a mixed bag for the visitors recently as you could get.
The form guide: Real Madrid
Three massive wins on the spin switched the general narrative from Zidane being shown the door to him being handed a longer contract. Crazy this game!
Di Stefano snubbed
Since we're talking about the Real Madrid legend, his name was notable by its absence from France Football's best XI of all time, which was in place of the Ballon d'Or award this year.
The final picks were pretty decent, although generated much debate with fans from different generations.
A nice little connection pointed out by the team at LaLiga English.
Athletic forward Iñaki Williams playing tonight in the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano.
With and without Casemiro
Clearly when looking at statistics like this it is important to have in mind all the caveats that come with it. Obviously that can take a bit of time and thought - hence why it's often ignored in some lighter analysis pieces.
That said, the general trend from the stats, and from those that have been watching the Brazilian negate opposing sides' attacks, Zidane would always rather have him than not.
Tonight, though, El Pajarito, Valverde will take his place.
The French coach had to wash his mouth out with soap following his post-Derbi comments about the experienced trio of Kroos, Modric and Benzema. All three take to the field tonight from the start.
One player that is missing from the midfield is Casemiro, who is serving a suspension following a cumulation of yellow cards. But do Madrid miss the Brazilian when he's not there? We asked our friends at SofaScore to take a look...
Athletic Club XI
Unai Simón; Capa, Yeray, Íñigo, Yuri; Dani García, Vencedor; De Marcos, Raúl García, Berenguer; Williams
Real Madrid XI
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Modric; Lucas, Vinicius; Benzema
And it looks as though the teams have been announced...
Since the 2016/17 season, these two have met eight times. Los Blancos have four wins to their name while Los Leones haven't had bragging rights in that time. (h/t SofaScore)
Can they change that tonight?
Not a lot of action going on here but you can see the players looking really chilled in the room that gets the heart going.
Other ways to follow the action
As well as staying with me for all the play and reaction as it happens, tonight's game can be seen via a number of other providers.
Here's our handy guide to how you can keep an eye on proceedings, as well as giving you the kick-off time where you live. Oh, and it also includes a preview of the match for good measure.
Athletic need points
Down in 13th place, tonight's visitors have just four wins from their opening 12 games.
They will, however, have in mind that they did leave the corresponding fixture last season with a share of the spoils and that would be a very acceptable right now.
After their 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday, Gaizka Garitano’s side will also be given hope with results here from some other unlikely teams, newly promoted Cádiz being the perfect example.
How the table looks
Ahead of kick-off let's check where the two clubs sit in the current standings.
After a huge weekend win against neighbours, and many people's favourites for the title this season, Atlético, Real Madrid are up to third in the table. They are three points off Simeone's men (who still have a game in hand) and the same distance behind early pace-setters Real Sociedad (who have played a game more).
A win tonight would put them level and would be a massive perceptual boost to a side who are yet to truly find their groove.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Club
Hello and a very warm welcome from a rather chilly Madrid. Of course, we'll all soon be nicely heated up as the action kicks in.
Our LaLiga offering tonight sees Los Blancos host the Basque side Athletic, and there's plenty for us to look forward to.