Real Madrid continued its strong play of late with an impressive 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.
The match did not take long to get exciting, as Cristiano Ronaldo was aggressive from the start. He earned a free kick in the opening minutes after being fouled by Ander Herrera and was able to finish with a fantastic goal.
His shot into the upper left corner allowed the goalkeeper no chance at making a play, and it gave his side a 1-0 lead in the second minute.
However, Athletic Bilbao was not ready to roll over in this home match. The club continued to fight and put the pressure on Madrid goalie Diego Lopez by consistently ripping shots at the net. Unfortunately, the team was unable to break through before the half.
After the intermission, the underdog continued to fight hard on the offensive end but could not get enough shots on goal.
The score remained 1-0 until Ronaldo knocked in a second goal on a header that was assisted by Xabi Alonso. Gonzalo Higuain then put the nail in the coffin with a score just five minutes after coming into the match.
Jose Mourinho's club has now gone nine straight La Liga matches without a loss and is finally living up to expectations.
Athletic Bilbao will be disappointed with the loss, but it should feel safe from relegation sitting in 14th place in the league table.
On the other hand, Real Madrid is playing as well as ever after a terrible start to the year. The squad is now in second place in La Liga, although it will be almost impossible to make up 13 more points on Barcelona to win the league title.
The good news is that there are other trophies still on the line this season. The club is in the semifinals of Champions League and will face Borussia Dortmund on April 24 and April 30. In addition, the Copa del Rey is on the line against Atletico Madrid on May 17.
If the club can continue this solid level of play, it can be victorious in these two prestigious tournaments.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid: A+
According to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN, it was unknown whether Ronaldo would be able to play in this match due to an injury he suffered last week.
Apparently, this was not enough to stop one of the top players in the world.
The Portuguese star scored twice and continued to force the action. He took good shots, drew fouls and was generally a nuisance for the opponent to defend.
He has now scored in eight straight appearances for Real Madrid, and it has made this club a force offensively.
Diego Lopez, Real Madrid: A
It did not take long for Diego Lopez to take over for Iker Casillas in net for Real Madrid. It turns out this switch was an excellent move, as the veteran has been a steady force for the Spanish team.
That continued on Sunday, as he was under pressure throughout the match. Athletic Bilbao held possession for a good part of the match and was able to get solid shots from everywhere on the pitch.
While this club has not been much of an offensive force during the year (just 34 goals in 31 matches), this was not an easy day for Lopez. Still, he came through with a good effort to get the clean sheet.
Markel Susaeta, Athletic Bilbao: C
With Aritz Aduriz unable to play, the club needed someone to step up on the offensive end. With five goals in La Liga this season, Markel Susaeta was as good of an option as anyone else on the roster.
While he had some good looks during the match, he was unable to pull through and get a goal to help his side win.
It is tough to expect much when a club is this overmatched and short-handed, but it would have been nice to see more out of the young player.
Jonas Ramalho, Athletic Bilbao: B-
The defender drew a tough assignment in this match against one of the top offensive squads in the world, but his ineffectiveness was a big reason for the loss.
In only his fourth career La Liga start, Jonas Ramalho committed four fouls and allowed Real Madrid to set up free kicks, which usually end up devastating for opponents. Today was no exception.
Ramalho is only 19 years old and has plenty of time to improve, but this was not his best showing.
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