Real Madrid took another step towards being crowned the La Liga champions, when they defeated Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at San Mames on Sunday.

It was an open game for most of the first half, with both teams creating promising chances. Raul Garcia came close for Athletic, drawing a save from Thibaut Courtois, while at the other end, Rodrygo and Karim Benzema had opportunities that they failed to convert.

After a goalless first half, Real Madrid began the second period with more control with Luka Modric testing Athletic stopper Unai Simon, who also denied Rodrygo soon after. However, the breakthrough finally came in the 71st minute, when Marcelo was brought down in the box by Dani Garcia, with Sergio Ramos bagging another goal from the penalty spot.

Athletic couldn’t mount a comeback in the final twenty minutes, as Real Madrid held on to their lead to bag another valuable three points. The result sees them extend their lead to seven points over Barcelona, who will be playing Villarreal later on Sunday.

Here’s how we rated the performances of Zinedine Zidane’s charges on the day at San Mames.

Thibaut Courtois: 7/10

Tested early in the first period by a headed effort from Raul Garcia and the Belgian was up to it, pulling off an important save. Showed good command in his box, coming out and collecting crosses on a number of occasions. Didn’t have much to do after the break with Real Madrid controlling proceedings.

Dani Carvajal: 7/10

The Spaniard right-back wasn’t his usual self going forward on the day, as he offered little in terms of overlapping runs. However, he was solid in defence, keeping a lid on Inigo Cordoba for most of the game. Finished the match with two successful tackles, two clearances and an interception, while also attempting the most passes in the game (64). Booked in stoppage time for kicking the ball at an opponent.

Eder Militao: 7.5/10

Handed a start in the absence of Raphael Varane, the Brazilian international gave a good account of himself, in spite of a couple of tricky moments against Inaki Williams. Covered well for his partner and dealt well with long balls, winning three headed duels. Won two tackles and distributed decently from the back, completing 45 of his 51 passes. One of his most assured performances since making the move last summer.

Sergio Ramos: 7.5/10

Another game, another goal. The Real Madrid captain continued his hot streak in front of goal, scoring another nerveless penalty to secure three points for his team. Defensively, there were a few lapses here and there, but overall it was another solid display, with a late clearance to deny the hosts a chance particularly standing out.

Ramos’ penalty meant he has now scored 10 La Liga goals for Real Madrid this season – the first time he has reached double figures in a single league term. Earned a booking late in the game.

Marcelo: 6.5/10

Brought back into the side in place of Ferland Mendy, the Brazilian saw the most of the ball, making a match-high 93 touches, but wasn’t always able to make the best use of it. Got forward well, but didn’t create a lot opportunities. Did leave gaps in behind which Athletic tried to exploit, but couldn’t capitalise as well as they could have.

Luka Modric: 8/10

Retained in the starting XI, the Croatian was the man that kept Real Madrid ticking in the middle. It was down to Modric that the visitors were able to control the proceedings for large parts of the match. Hasn’t had much rest, but the 34-year-old hardly showed it, as he covered a lot of ground and always made himself available as a passing option for teammates.

Had 77 touches and completed 56 of his 62 attempted passes, which included one key pass – only Sergio Ramos (59) completed more. Also had a pop at goal early in the second half, which was saved quite comfortably by Simon.

Casemiro: 7/10

The Brazilian always makes his importance felt in tight games like this one. His passing may have been a touch sloppy (30 completed of 40 attempted), but off the ball, Casemiro’s presence was crucial in keeping Athletic from getting a foothold in the game. Made the most interceptions in the game (5), won the most number of tackles by a Real Madrid player (3). Booked late for a rash tackle in Iker Muniain.

Federico Valverde: 6/10

Starting in place of Toni Kroos, the Uruguayan brought the energy and work-rate in the centre of the park, pressing the opposition aggressively from the front. However, wasn’t able to provide the creative essence that Kroos usually provides, which was needed in a game like this.

Rodrygo Goes: 6/10

Preferred over Isco on the right flank, the Brazilian showed good energy down the right hand side. Got into dangerous positions, but wasn’t always to make the most of it. Headed over a cross in the first period when he should have scored. Had another great chance after the break, but a heavy touch allowed the Athletic keeper to rush out and make the save. Bright in patches, but needs to take the chances when they come.

Rodrygo and Benzema missed good chances (Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images)

Rodrygo and Benzema missed good chances (Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images)

Karim Benzema: 6/10

Another goalless outing for Real Madrid’s ace goalscorer. Headed wide off the mark in the first period after being set up by Marco Asensio, then had an effort late in the game saved by Unai Simon. There were signs of decent link-up play with Rodrygo and Asensio, but hasn’t been able to provide the spark without Eden Hazard alongside him.

Marco Asensio: 7/10

Making his first La Liga start in over a year, the Spaniard looked purposeful against Athletic. Delivered inch-perfect crosses to create chances for Rodrygo and Benzema in the first half, both of which were missed. Had a couple of shots at goal, but nothing came of it. Nevertheless, a very positive performance from Asensio as he continues on his comeback trail.

SUBSTITUTES

Lucas Vazquez: N/A

Replaced Rodrygo a little after the goal and helped see out the game.

Vinicius Junior: N/A

Got the final 15 minutes in place of Asensio. Wasn’t able to do much of note.

Toni Kroos: N/A

Replaced Modric late on. Linked up with Benzema to create a chance.

Luka Jovic: N/A

Stoppage time substitute for Benzema.

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