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Real Madrid defeats Athletic Bilbao

Real Madrid made it four victories on the bounce in all competitions, with a 3-1 triumph over Athletic Bilbao at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano seeing them go joint-top of the La Liga table.

The hosts came into this game buoyed by their derby victory over Atletico Madrid last weekend. However, the visitors were better in the opening exchanges before they were left with a mountain to climb following a moment of madness.

Raul Garcia – handed a start by Gaizka Garitano after four matches on the bench – barely repaid his coach’s faith as he was handed a yellow card for a rash challenge on Toni Kroos in just the 7th minute.

Six minutes later, the former Atletico Madrid midfielder was at it again, with Kroos once more on the receiving end of a bad tackle, leaving referee Jesus Manzano with no choice but to give him his marching orders.

Despite the advantage, Real Madrid failed to exert their superiority until Vinicius was denied by Unai Simon’s point-blank save in the 40th minute.

Just when it looked like both sides were headed into the break all square, Toni Kroos broke the deadlock with an exquisite shot from 25 yards to put Real Madrid 1-0 up.

Athletic Bilbao came out for the second half strongly and got the goal their play deserved when Ander Capa was on hand to score on the rebound after his initial shot had been parried back into his path by Thibaut Courtois seven minutes in the second half.

Real Madrid had the ball in the back of the net almost immediately but Vinicius Junior was rightly called back for offside. Zinedine Zidane made two changes in the 64th minute, with Marco Asensio swapping Federico Valverde and Isco coming on for Vinicius, and the hosts soon regained their advantage.

The victory sees Real Madrid go joint-top on the table with 26 points alongside Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid.

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