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Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao. Spanish La Liga.

Santiago BernabeuAttendance72,910.

Real Madrid 2

  • K Benzema (7th minute)
  • Á Morata (83rd minute)

Athletic Bilbao 1

  • S Merino Zuloaga (27th minute)

Real Madrid 2-1 Athletic Bilbao: Alvaro Morata strike sends Los Blancos top

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Alvaro Morata came off the bench to score a late winner for Real Madrid as they beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 to go top of La Liga

Substitute Alvaro Morata's late goal helped Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the Bernabeu on Sunday night, a result that sees Zinedine Zidane's side go top of La Liga.

Madrid opened the scoring after just seven minutes through Karim Benzema's close-range strike, only for Sabin to equalise for the visitors 20 minutes later.

However, Real claimed all three points after Morata converted Gareth Bale's cross at the second attempt to move above Sevilla at the top of the table after nine games of the season.

Zidane opted to stick with Benzema in attack, rather than hand Morata a chance up front, and the Frenchman's faith was rewarded when his compatriot opened the scoring early on.

Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their second goal
Image: Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata's late winner against Athletic Bilbao sent his side to the top of La Liga

Madrid captain Marcelo played a long, raking ball over the top in search of the fast breaking Isco and despite Enric Saborit reading the danger, the Bilbao left-back crucially slipped at the wrong moment.

That error gave the Spain international the chance to cross for the unmarked Benzema, who from six yards out had no problem beating Bilbao No 1 Gorka Iraizoz for his fourth goal of the season, and his seventh in total against the Basques in La Liga.

However, despite having lost their last 11 league games in a row at the Bernabeu, Ernesto Valverde's side refused to cave in after that early setback and gradually worked their way into the contest.

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Karim Benzema
Image: Karim Benzema (right) after opening the scoring against Bilbao

And 20 minutes later, Bilbao were level after a penetrating run to the byline by right-back Inigo Lekue, whose pull back then caused confusion in the Madrid defence, with Pepe failing to clear his lines.

That hesitancy at the back then allowed Sabin the simplest of chances to equalise from close range, with the 24-year-old forward driving the ball low past the helpless Keylor Navas as Madrid's inability to keep a clean sheet continued.

The home side should have retaken the lead just before half-time, only for Cristiano Ronaldo's struggles in front of goal at home to continue as with team-mates waiting in the middle for a pass, the forward shot straight into Bilbao captain Iraizoz's midriff.

Early in the second half the Basques very nearly made Ronaldo and Real pay for that miss after Inaki Williams was played clean through on goal, but with just Navas to beat, the player reportedly being watched by Liverpool blazed horribly over the bar.

Both managers rung the changes in the final quarter of the game, with Zidane introducing first Lucas Vazquez and then Morata as he went in search of the winner against opponents missing half-a-dozen first teamers.

Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their second goal
Image: Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata celebrates his late winner

And after Bale spurned a great chance to score with 12 minutes to go, the Welshman made up for that miss by creating Real's 83rd-minute winner with an inviting left-wing centre for arch-poacher Morata to convert from close range, albeit at the second attempt.

The visitors, though, will feel they should have left the Spanish capital with a point after Williams was presented with another wonderful opening late on when Varane's underhit back pass failed to reach Navas.

But faced with the onrushing Costa Rican, the young Spain international could not beat the Real No 1 and the chance was gone, while Ronaldo's frustrating evening continued in stoppage time when the forward shot straight at Iraizoz when one on one with the Bilbao goalkeeper.

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