Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Real Madrid continued their 100 percent winning start to the La Liga season by beating Athletic Bilbao, who had also won their first two games, 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Two strikes from Isco sandwiched Cristiano Ronaldo's first goal of the new campaign, leaving Ibai Gomez's late effort as nothing more than a consolation.
Neither side flew out of the blocks, but by the time Isco gave Los Blancos the lead inside the opening 30 minutes, Madrid had established themselves as the better side.
Karim Benzema's lofted pass was well controlled by the former Malaga man, who then proceeded to calmly slot home. With the break looming, Ronaldo then doubled Madrid's lead; Angel di Maria's cross was pinpoint, finding an unmarked Ronaldo to head past Iago Herrerin in the Athletic goal.
Ernesto Valverde's side did improve in the second half, but their slim chances of a comeback were ended by a deflected Isco effort inside the last 20 minutes. Gomez did manage to pull one back for the Basque side, but Madrid held on for a comfortable 3-1 win.
Real Madrid 3-1 Athletic Bilbao FT: Shots (on target) 20(7) - 12(2), MotM - Isco 9.1 http://t.co/WwtoA4y48l— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 1, 2013
Luka Modric was simply outstanding today for Real Madrid, he popped up everywhere on the pitch, won everything and was overall brilliant.— Gary Linton (@AlbaEspana) September 1, 2013
Ancelotti: "Cristiano scored, for him it is good to score, he didnt have a problem, but to score, for a forward, is always a good thing.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) September 1, 2013
Key Player Grades
Luka Modric: A+
Isco continued to blossom for Real Madrid, but Luka Modric was the best player on the pitch at the Bernabeu on Sunday.
The Croatian, who endured a difficult start in Spain last season, looked well and truly settled as he controlled the midfield against Athletic Bilbao. Technique, tackling, vision and effort; all were on show as Modric demonstrated why he is fast becoming a fan favorite in the Spanish capital.
Several times during the win, chants of "Modriiiiiiiiiiiic" could be heard echoing around the crowd of over 72,000.
Luka Modric's best performance for Real Madrid. Utterly spectacular.— Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro) September 1, 2013
Isco scored his second and third goals of the campaign to continue his excellent start to life at Real Madrid. His first was extremely well taken, while his second did receive a fortunate deflection on its way past Herrerin.
Linking up with Modric, he was fantastic in Madrid's build-up play too. He created plenty of openings for his teammates throughout the 90 minutes.
Ancelotti: “Isco is playing very well, it seems he has played a long time here, he has personality, skill, he is a good player for us.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) September 1, 2013
Iago Herrerin: A-
Athletic Bilbao's keeper, starting in place of Gorka Iraizoz, could not be faulted for any of the goals conceded against Real Madrid.
In fact, were it not for Herrerin, Athletic could have found themselves on the end of a much more humiliating scoreline.
The 'keeper twice thwarted long-range efforts from Ronaldo, tipping them around the post for corners, as Madrid rattled in 20 shots on their visitor's goal.
Carlos Gurpegi: D
Athletic Bilbao's captain, Carlos Gurpegi, was lucky to end the match on the pitch at the Bernabeu.
The centre-half, already on a booking, swung a flailing arm at Ronaldo in the second half. The referee deemed it a free kick but surprisingly didn't produce a yellow card when a red wouldn't have been out of the question.
It had little effect on the outcome, though. Gurpegi was among a back four which was caught, especially for the first two goals, a little flat-footed.
Couple of issues for Valverde- 1. Is Gurpegi in defence a liability? 2. Provision of support to striker. Aduriz often isolated.— chalkontheboots (@chalkontheboots) September 1, 2013
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