Rodrygo scores double as Real Madrid see off Athletic Bilbao

By Sports Desk March 31, 2024

Rodrygo's double helped Real Madrid strengthen their position at the top of the table in LaLiga as Athletic Bilbao were beaten 2-0 at the Bernabeu.

The hosts went ahead just eight minutes into the game through Rodrygo's excellent top corner finish and an energetic start to the second half saw Brahim Diaz go close twice either side of Inaki Williams' strike, but Jude Bellingham's neat pass set the Brazilian up for his second in the 73rd minute to seal the three points.

Real remain at the summit, eight points clear of second-placed Barcelona, while Athletic remain fourth.

Although Athletic started the brighter of the two teams, Real struck with their first attack of the game when Brahim broke forward and dispatched a fantastic cross-field ball into Rodrygo, who cut in from the left to curl the ball sweetly from the outside of the box into the top corner.

The hosts settled into the game after their early goal, with Brahim having plenty of involvement on the right flank, but Athletic were handed an early blow when Yeray Alvarez Lopez was taken off with injury in the 24th minute and Daniel Vivian came on to replace him.

Toni Kroos' deflected 34th minute strike was comfortably claimed by Julen Agirrezabala and moments later the German international's corner was cleared as far as Federico Valverde, who chipped the ball from long-distance towards the bottom left corner but Agirrezabala made a quick low save.

The hosts pushed for a second in the closing stages of the first half when Brahim pounced on a loose ball and his cross was poked just wide of goal by Vivian and Real threatened again from the resulting corner when Aurelien Tchouameni headed just wide.

Real were straight out of the blocks after the break and nearly doubled their lead following a mazy run from Rodrygo, who cut in from the left and played the ball through to Brahim on the right, but his low shot rattled off the far post.

Athletic had a brilliant chance seven minutes into the half when Berenguer's corner picked out an unmarked Williams at the far post, but Andriy Lunin palmed away before Brahim threatened again at the other end, firing over the crossbar.

Real extended their lead in the 73rd minute when a quick ball from Bellingham picked Rodrygo out in plenty of space on the left and the Brazilian cut into the centre to coolly slot home into bottom corner.

Athletic had two great chances when Iker Muniain's flicked effort was collected by Agirrezabala and after finding some space Williams dragged a shot wide.

Eder Militao made his first appearance in seven months since picking up a cruciate ligament injury after coming off the bench in stoppage-time as Real comfortably saw out the win.

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