Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the game while Thibaut Courtois and Vinicius Junior impressed as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 in La Liga.
Real Madrid came into the contest at the Bernabeu, hoping to stretch their lead at the top of the table. However, Athletic Bilbao carved out better goalscoring opportunities in the opening period, despite the hosts having made a decent start to the game. However, Inaki Williams was guilty of wasting a couple of chances while Raul Garcia saw his effort saved by Thibaut Courtois.
Five minutes from half-time, though, Real Madrid broke the deadlock when Marco Asensio’s shot was saved by Unai Simon, with the rebound falling to Luka Modric, whose mishit was diverted into the back of the net by Karim Benzema. Athletic ramped up the pressure in the second half in search of an equaliser, with Los Blancos finding it hard to get out of the blocks.
Marcelino’s men created several chances but were unable to find a way through, with Courtois producing another key save to deny Oihan Sancet while the likes of Eder Militao and Lucas Vazquez made some crucial blocks to keep the hosts’ lead intact and help them get over the line.
The result means Carlo Ancelotti’s side have opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the La Liga table, although second-placed Atletico Madrid do have a game in hand. Here are our player ratings for the Real Madrid stars after their narrow win against Los Leones.
Real Madrid Player Ratings
Thibaut Courtois: 8/10
— ZIZOU (@zizou_910) December 1, 2021
While Courtois may have made just two saves on the night, both the stops from the Belgian international – one each on either side of half-time – were absolutely top-notch and ensured that Real Madrid walked away with all three points from the game. Clutch yet again.
Lucas Vazquez: 6.5/10
The Spaniard replaced Dani Carvajal at right-back and enjoyed a largely positive outing. While he did not offer the greatest threat going forward, he did show some enterprise and linked up well with Marco Asensio at times. Defensively, Vazquez was fairly solid, with the highlight being a crucial block to deny Raul Garcia in the second half.
Eder Militao: 7.5/10
The Real Madrid centre-half made a dodgy start to the contest, making a few errors that the visitors should have capitalised on. However, he grew into the game with time and made sure that Real Madrid came away with a clean sheet, as he made a game-high nine clearances while even pulling off a huge block to deny Mikel Vesga from just six yards out late in the game.
David Alaba: 6.5/10
Like his defensive partner, Alaba, too, did not start well and made a huge blunder, failing to deal with a long ball, allowing Williams a chance at goal. Thankfully for him, the Athletic forward made a meal of it. The Austrian did grow into the game and was fairly assured for the most part but was well below his usual level.
Ferland Mendy: 6/10
A so-so performance from the French left-back, who got forward with purpose but could not create many chances. At the back, Mendy was at times guilty of leaving spaces open, which Athletic Bilbao tried to capitalise on. No harm, no foul in the end, but he is capable of better.
Luka Modric: 7/10
📊 | Luka Modric now has 5 assists for Real Madrid this season – only Karim Benzema (7) has more. #HalaMadrid
— RMadridHome (@RMadridHome) December 1, 2021
The Croatian had looked jaded in the last game but started again here and was much sharper than at the weekend. Modric was involved in most of Real Madrid’s positive actions on the night and had a hand in the move leading to the goal even before his mishit shot fell to Benzema, who buried into the back of the net. The veteran finished with four key passes.
It was a mixed bag of a performance from the Brazilian enforcer, who had some positive moments with the ball at his feet, as he often switched play from midfield with ease. At the same time, Casemiro wasn’t always secure in his defensive duties, even though he did win four tackles. He made a few unnecessary fouls and gave away possession in dangerous areas.
Toni Kroos: 7/10
The former Bayern Munich superstar put in yet another solid, all-round performance in the middle of the park. Kroos kept things ticking along nicely with his passes, although he did seem to lack that bit of cutting edge that would have helped Real Madrid carve open the visitors more frequently. He also forced Unai Simon into a few saves from distance while putting in the hard yards defensively.
Marco Asensio: 5.5/10
The Spaniard got the nod over Rodrygo again but failed to make the most of his chance. He did pose a few problems in the first half when cutting in from the right, but that did not always lead to anything of note. Asensio did have a hand in the goal as it was his shot that was initially parried by Simon, leading to the rebound. Nonetheless, too ineffective in an overall sense.
Karim Benzema: 7.5/10
Karim Benzema's brilliant play in 2021 rolls on 👍 pic.twitter.com/bpXyuXY1L3
— GOAL (@goal) December 2, 2021
The match-winner yet again for Real Madrid, Benzema was a positive influence on the proceedings in the first half and looked like a threat, alongside Vinicius Junior. He showed his poacher’s instincts to pounce on Modric’s mishit to score the only goal of the game. However, the Frenchman faded with time and failed to impact things after the break, cutting his rating.
Vinicius Junior: 8/10
The 21-year-old was the liveliest Real Madrid attacker on the pitch on Wednesday night as he caused problems to the Athletic defence every time he got on the ball and ran at them with pace. Vinicius’ brilliant run and pass to Asensio led to the opening goal in the first half while he also produced a match-high five key passes, creating several chances for his teammates. The Brazilian wasn’t shy of getting his hands dirty, chipping in with five tackles – another game-high.
📊Vinícius vs Athletic Bilbao:
47 Accurate passes (94%)
5 Key passes
1 Big chance created
9 Duels won
4 Times fouled
Another solid performance 🔥 pic.twitter.com/umRJQNuDLU
— Vinimparável (@Vinimparavel) December 1, 2021
The Brazilian came on for Asensio in the 64th minute. Apart from launching a quick counter, he did little of note in his cameo.
Federico Valverde: 6/10
He replaced Modric for the final twenty minutes and helped out defensively to see out the win.
Eduardo Camavinga: N/A
Sent on for Kroos for the last ten minutes.
Replaced Vazquez at right-back in the 80th minute and kept things in check.