Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos were on target as Real Madrid registered 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening.
Madrid named veteran midfield duo Toni Kroos and Luka Modric on the bench and rewarded Dani Ceballos with a spot in the line-up after he got the winner against Villarreal CF in the Copa del Rey.
Ernesto Valverde’s side closed in to the lead on nine minutes when a floated ball from a short-corner saw Aitor Paredes head towards the far corner, but Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was on hand to make the save.
More problems arose in Madrid’s defence on 22 minutes after Inaki Williams ran in behind of Ferland Mendy from a counter-attack and fired into the side-netting from a tight angle.
Los Blancos, though, put their noses in front two minutes later as Benzema latched onto a loose ball from a looping header by Marco Asensio and volleyed into the bottom-corner.
Real looked to add a second of the evening 12 minutes in the second half with a snap shot by Nacho Fernandes from Vinicius Junior’s cross, but he went straight at Unai Simon.
Bilbao sprung to life after a quiet spell, with Nico Williams dragging a shot wide of the mark as Madrid scrambled to hold their lines.
Los Blancos made their first substitution around the last 20 minutes when Modric came on for Asensio with the clash in the balance.
Bilbao looked to have gone level on 78 minutes when Courtois parried a low shot from Yuri only for Inaki Williams to turn in the rebound, but it was quickly ruled out for offside.
However, Los Blancos bagged the second goal in the dying minutes after Kroos dropped in space on the edge of the area and fired in the near corner following Rodrygo’s pass.
Bilbao looked for a consolation with seconds to go, but the visitors kept calm and secured the win to go three points behind the league leaders FC Barcelona.
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