Real Madrid v. Athletic Bilbao @ Santiago Bernabeu
Could Real keep their slim lead in front of Barcelona in the La Liga rankings with a win? Or did Athletic find a way to conquer the Spanish Giants?
Like expected, these two teams got to good starts. But Los Blancos got to the better start. At the 18', Gonzalo Higuain got the game's first goal on pure individual effort and determination. And a goal-scorer's hunger. 11 minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo (with his new haircut) sent the ball into the back of the Athletic net like a bullet! It was straight and true, and brimmed with the effort of the team.
But not all the glory was to be had by the Spanish Giants. Splitting the possession in the first half 55-45 for Real, Athletic had some good chances at scoring but were stopped by the best keeper in the world, Iker Casillas. There was a falter in the game of Casillas though. At the 39', Athletic's Fernando Llorente picked the ball up from a pick-pocketed Casillas and made a pivot kick to get his left boot on the ball and into the back of the net! A collective effort by Athletic got them one goal closer, but they would need a lot more of that to beat Real.
That case was shown when Markel Susaeta committed a foul in the penalty area on Ángel di María. At 56', Sergio Ramos converts the awarded penalty shot into a goal much to the chagrin of Athletic. Penalties became the Achilles' heel of Athletic when Real was awarded a free-kick at the 61'. Ronaldo converted the free-kick perfectly into a goal to make it a 4-1 lead and get his second of the night. Ronaldo gets his hat-trick in the added injury time by taking a PK and giving Los Galacticos the 5-1 win.
Despite coming out on the losing end, Athetlic played a good game and I'm sure they've learned their lesson against the Spanish giants.
Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo