Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring against Athletic Club
Real Madrid beat Athletic Club 2-1 in La Liga to regain their eight-point lead at the top of the standings.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring in the fourth minute of the game with a stunning strike. The Frenchman curled one in from the edge of the box to hand Real Madrid an early lead. Minutes later, Benzema doubled his side’s advantage as he tucked one past Julen Agirrezabala.
As Real Madrid were running away with the game, Oihan Sancet scored a peach of a goal in the 10th minute of the game to pull one back for his side. He smashed one in, giving Thibaut Courtois no chance.
Marcelino’s men tried to take charge of the game in the second half, but Real Madrid’s resilience ensured they secured all three points.
On that note, here’s a look at five talking points from the game:
#5. Eden Hazard is getting his groove back
Eden Hazard is regaining his lost form
The Belgian international may not have hit his best form yet for Real Madrid, but seems to finally be hitting his stride. With Marco Asensio, Rodrygo and Gareth Bale out, Eden Hazard received the opportunity to start two games in a row.
The former Chelsea star showed glimpses of his former self. Hazard won nine duels, completed three dribbles and created two key passes throughout the game. He was instrumental in the build-up to Real Madrid’s second goal.
Although he is lacking a bit of confidence at the moment, regular game-time could very well change all that.
#4. Real Madrid showed great character
Fede Valverde in action against Athletic Club
Carlo Ancelotti had a lot to think about when Luka Modric, Marco Asensio, David Alaba, Gareth Bale, Isco, Sergio Arribas, Marcelo, Andriy Lunin, Dani Carvajal and Casemiro were all sidelined due to COVID, suspensions or injuries.
Fede Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, Eden Hazard, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho played their hearts out when given the opportunity. Although they struggled on numerous occasions, it is understandable since most of the starting eleven underwent a massive change.
The players have shown great character to grind out results and this is a sign of potential champions.
#3. Eder Militao is shining for Real Madrid
Eder Militao in action for Los Blancos
The Brazilian had a rough start to the season but is back to his natural best for Real Madrid. He put in a massive shift today. Eder Militao won all three of his aerial duels against Athletic Bilbao. The 23-year-old kept Inaki Williams at bay throughout the game.
Militao won seven duels in total and made five recoveries, two clearances and two interceptions on the night. Despite the absence of Dani Carvajal and David Alaba by his side, he took complete charge of the proceedings.
#2. Karim Benzema is in a league of his own
Karim Benzema in action against Athletic Club
The Frenchman ran riot for Real Madrid once again. His opener was an absolute stunner and showed why he is amongst the best in the world.
In the process, he scored his 400th professional goal of his career. Today’s brace took his season’s tally to 20 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid this season.
Karim Benzema even earned an ovation from San Mames when he was substituted for Luka Jovic in the 90th minute of the game.
#1. Real Madrid top the table at year end
Real Madrid player rejoice after winning against Athletic Bilbao
Real Madrid end their year at the top of the La Liga table with 46 points after gameweek 19. Trailing them is Sevilla with 38 points who have a game in hand. Behind Sevilla are Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano, who have 33 and 30 points after 18 games respectively.
Atletico Madrid slipped further as they lost to Granada and are now fifth with 29 points. Meanwhile, Barcelona are seventh with 28 points after 18 games.
With today’s win, Real Madrid extended their unbeaten run to 15 games in all competitions.