The points were shared at the Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid held a resilient Athletic Bilbao side to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
Inaki Williams gave his side the lead in the 14th minute completely against the run of play. Inigo Cordoba put him through with a defence splitting pass and the Spaniard chipped the ball over a helpless Keylor Navas to stun the Bernabeu crowd into silence.
Real Madrid continued to dominate and they got close on a number of occasions. They ensured that a majority of the game was played in the Athletic half and Kepa Arrizabalaga was in superb form on the night, but even he was called into action more times than he would’ve liked.
Just when it seemed as if Los Leones would be leaving the capital with all three points, Cristiano Ronaldo picked the 87th minute to score his 42nd goal of the season. The Portuguese international flicked a Luka Modric shot into the back of the net, with his back turned to goal no less.
The sense of dread was subsequently replaced by relief and calm around the Bernabeu, but Zinedine Zidane will know that this was a game his side should have won, given the number of chances they created for themselves. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zidane’s men.
Keylor Navas: 6.5
Made one save the entire night, which proved to be crucial in the end. Could do nothing for the goal. Didn’t have too much to do besides some routine recovering as his side had the most amount of possession.
Dani Carvajal: 7
Was defensively sound throughout the night and was great going forward. Couldn’t contribute for his side’s goal, but was a constant menace on the right flank and kept the Athletic defence busy. Sent in a fair few crosses, but only a few met their mark.
Rapahel Varane: 6
His passing was a bit off on the night. Otherwise he was defensively sound the entire night. Made some good tackles to keep the Bilbao attack at bay. Could do nothing about the goal.
Sergio Ramos: 6
Recovered possession for his side a number of times, made 4 interceptions and won most of his battles in the air. It was a good game at the heart of Real Madrid’s defence. But, he failed to mark Inaki Williams, leaving the Spaniard free to go and open the scoring for his side.
Got forward a lot. Nearly every foray into the visitors’ half resulted in the Brazilian sending a cross into the box. Didn’t ignore his defensive duties and made some key interceptions to break up Athletic’s play. Unfortunately for all his efforts, couldn’t directly contribute to a goal or assist.
Lucas Vazquez: 7.5
The Spaniard had an extremely lively outing, but everything he threw at Athletic was absorbed. Gave the visitors no respite and constantly caused troubles with his runs and daring take-ons. Contributed defensively as well, making 3 tackles. One of Real’s biggest threats on the night.
Toni Kroos: 6
Misplaced only 3 passes the entire evening and put in a fair few crosses into the box. Didn’t have his usual authority over proceedings, but kept his side ticking and linked up well with his teammates.
Luka Modric: 7
Got the assist for Ronaldo’s goal. Took on a number of players and kept things moving in the middle of the park. It was a good, tireless display from the Croat.
Marco Asensio: 7
Completed all of his take-ons on the night. Had a superb outing on the wings. Created 6 scoring chances for his teammates and took three shots, two of which were on target. Only thing missing from his performance was a goal.
Karim Benzema: 5
Another poor outing for the Frenchman in front of goal. Made some good runs and got into some good scoring positions, but his decision making and finishing really let him down. Cut a frustrated figure, severely low on confidence.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8
His side’s saviour once again. This goal was his 26th in his last 16 games. Hit the post in the first half with a powerful header. Athletic did extremely well to keep him marked and quiet for large parts of the evening, but he was afforded three yards of space for the goal and he couldn’t have made better use of it.