Ronaldo turns playmaker to lead Madrid past Bilbao 2-1

Real Madrid went five points clear a the top of La Liga after coming through a testing game at Athletic Bilbao to win 2-1 thanks to Brazilian midfield linchpin Casemiro's strike on Saturday.

Casemiro scored what proved to be the victor for Zinedine Zidane's side at San Mames, putting them five points clear of their greatest rivals at the top of the standings.

Williams signed a new contract with Athletic Bilbao last January which included a €50m release clause.

The Portugal forward passed for Karim Benzema to open the scoring at San Mames Stadium in the 25th minute.

The result put Madrid five points clear of second-placed Barcelona in the table, and ensures that Zidane's team will be top during the coming global break, regardless of what happens when Valencia visit the Camp Nou on Sunday evening.

However, Real Madrid were pegged back in the second half when Aritz Aduriz headed home following a set up from Raul Garcia.

Real Madrid full-back Marcelo hailed Casemiro as one of the best midfielders in the world following his match-winning display against Athletic Bilbao. Gareth Bale drifted through the match, somehow staying on for the full 90 minutes despite being well short of match sharpness. "That is how it has happened, we can not change it", the Real Madrid boss said before speaking about the special return of current Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Zidane's side begin to exert pressure on their hosts, as Gareth Bale nearly converted a Benzema cross before a Toni Kroos free-kick nearly found Sergio Ramos. Benzema has hit a real vein of form. That was easily the best opportunity of the match so far.

Zidane highlighted the saves Keylor made for the 2-1 win.

Kroos's delivery was flicked on by Ronaldo and midfielder Casemiro was completely alone inside the six-yard box to slot home from close range. Ronaldo got in behind the Athletic defence and played a pass right across the face of goal for Benzema to finish into the corner.

Aritz Aduriz cancelled out Karim Benzema's opener before Casemiro netted the victor with just over 20 minutes to play to seal a 2-1 victory.

68' GOAL! Athletic Bilbao 1 Real Madrid 2: That's a body blow for the home side!

Los Blancos had the ball in the back of the Bilbao net in the 10th minute when Cristiano Ronaldo tapped a Dani Carvajal cross into the bottom corner, but the offside flag was raised, much to the frustration of the Portuguese.

  • Loretta Pittman