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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Real Madrid 4-1 Athletic Bilbao

Marcelo, Cristiano Ronaldo (2) and Callejon spur the Whites' comeback following Llorente's opener

Fernando Magallon / Translation by Michael J. O'Donnell

Real Madrid sealed the first leg of La Liga with a victory over Athletic Bilbao that keeps them at the top of the table with a five-point cushion over the runners-up. Marcelo, Ronaldo and Callejon scored the goals that followed Llorente's opener. Ozil served as master of ceremonies in the second half, during which the Madridistas netted three of their strikes.
The match started with the emotive tribute the Santiago Bernabeu crowd paid to the late Jose Ribot, a true Madridista who sadly died on Saturday. The opening minutes were somewhat uphill for the Whites and Llorente netted the opener from a cross by Javi Martinez (12'). Granero (one of the new faces on the starting lineup alongside Marcelo, Varane, Kaka, Ozil and Arbeloa) tried for an equaliser with two long shots that Iriazoz managed to grab. Real Madrid upped the pace to the match, but Athletic didn't falter and continued to prove dangerous in Casillas' box; indeed, De Marcos missed a clear chance to score from a clearance the keeper was forced to make from a shot by Muniain (18').

Madrid started to dominate. Cristiano passed the ball to Ozil and received it back from the German to look for Marcelo, who then defeated Iriazoz following a triangulation with Benzema (24'). Athletic wanted to get back in the lead and, just before half-time, Llorente sent the ball off target in a one-on-one with Casillas (38').

The Whites seemed to have more resolve in the second half and Iturraspe brought Kaka down inside the box one minute after the whistle. Ronaldo converted the penalty with a shot through the top corner of the goal and gave his team the lead. Later on, Ozil was challenged in the box as he tried to finish off a head pass from Benzema. The French striker scored, but the goal was disallowed because the referee had already awarded the penalty, which was again converted by Ronaldo (66').

Mourinho made changes to give his team a breather, bringing on Lass, Higuain and Callejon. The Argentine hit the post, but Callejon had better luck after being assisted by him (85'). The match ended with a victory especially dedicated to Jose, Marta and Oscar, the Ribot family. The triumph keeps the Whites in the lead with a five-point cushion over Barcelona, whom they'll face again in the return leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals at the Camp Nou.

Real Madrid

  • 1I. CasillasGoalkeeper
  • 17Á. ArbeloaYellow Card
  • 19R. Varane
  • 4S. RamosYellow Card
  • 12MarceloGoal
  • 11E. GraneroSubstitution Off
  • 14X. Alonso
  • 10M. Özil
  • 8KakáSubstitution Off
  • 7C. RonaldoGoal (P)Goal (P)Yellow Card
  • 9K. BenzemaSubstitution Off


  • 18R. Albiol
  • 21J. CallejónGoalSubstitution On
  • 13A. Adán
  • 24Lass DiarraSubstitution On
  • 16H. Altintop
  • 15Fábio Coentrão
  • 20G. HiguaínSubstitution On

José Mourinho

Athletic de Bilbao

  • 1G. IraizozGoalkeeper
  • 15A. Iraola
  • 24Javi Martínez
  • 6M. San José
  • 5F. AmorebietaSubstitution Off
  • 10Ó. De MarcosYellow CardRed Card
  • 8A. IturraspeYellow Card
  • 21Ander
  • 14M. SusaetaSubstitution Off
  • 9F. LlorenteGoalSubstitution Off
  • 19I. Muniain


  • 17I. PérezSubstitution On
  • 2G. ToqueroSubstitution On
  • 7D. López
  • 12Koikili
  • 13Raúl Fernández
  • 23B. Ekiza
  • 28I. GómezSubstitution On

Marcelo Bielsa

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