Real Madrid secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Athletic Club on the road at San Mames on Wednesday evening. The victory is massive given the covid-19 outbreak in Madrid’s camp as well as Sevilla’s failure to beat Barcelona last night and Atletico Madrid’s defeat at Granada earlier this evening. La Liga is Madrid’s to lose.
Karim Benzema fired them into a fourth-minute lead with one of the best goals you’ll see all season. The Frenchman took his shot first-time from wide left, just outside the box, and saw his effort curl out away from goal before nestling in the bottom-right corner of the net. A goal of the highest quality from a man bang in form.
Benzema doubled his and Madrid’s tally just three minutes later. This time he took the ball inside the box after Eden Hazard’s pass took a slight deflection, before finishing coolly past Athletic goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala. He seemed to hurt himself in the way he fell after shooting, but was able to continue without issue.
It appeared as if Madrid were going to run away with the game, but Athletic pulled one back in the tenth minute through Oihan Sancet. He received the ball between the lines before opening his body and shooting on goal, his effort from outside the box bouncing off the right post before nestling in the back of the net. But Benzema’s brace ultimately proved to be enough.
“The victory means a lot to us,” Carlo Ancelotti said post-match in comments carried by Marca. “It was a complete game played by a team not used to playing together recently. Nacho, Fede [Valverde], [Eduardo] Camavinga… They played a great game and were fully committed. It’s an important victory against a difficult team in a fantastic stadium, and these are three points that carry significant weight given the league table. Now we’re going to rest, recover those missing today and continue.”