Casemiro guides leaders Real through Athletic test

Isco Real Madrid Barcelona

Real Madrid's players have been warned by Zinedine Zidane that the trip to Athletic Bilbao is one of their biggest challenges remaining in the LaLiga title race.

Cristiano Ronaldo set up two goals to lead Real Madrid to a 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao and a five-point lead in the Spanish league on Saturday. Casemiro slots home a finish after a near post flick on from a corner by Ronaldo.

But Casemiro proved Madrid's unlikely hero just three minutes later, tapping in from close range after being left unmarked at a corner to secure Madrid's 13th win in 15 league meetings with the Basque side.

But the lively Williams played a pivotal role in Athletic's equaliser with 25 minutes to play, as his deep cross from the right was headed back to the six-yard box by Raul Garcia, allowing the unmarked Aduriz to nod the ball into the net. "He is a kid who works a lot". "He works very hard and it's a privilege to play in the same side as him. He is one of the best midfielders in the world".

Madrid have 65 points with second-placed Barcelona on 60 before the defending champions host Valencia on Sunday.

"It is what it is, we suffered at times, but we played well, we knew it was always complicated here, but we did what we had to do. We will just keep working and it was important to stay top of the table before the worldwide break".




"That is important of course, but we just think about picking up points each week", Marcelo said. "We are in the final stretch in La Liga. We know we need to go there and score and ten we can focus on the return leg".

Asked if he studied Ronaldo's game, he told AS: 'He's absolutely lethal, he has so many qualities - and all of them go into the mix: he's ambitious, hard-working.

"Pressure, we're going to have pressure until the end", Zidane said. "That is how it has happened, we can not change it", the Real Madrid boss said before speaking about the special return of current Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti.

"We're playing well, we are very confident and the derby win gave us an extra boost".

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC.

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