Athletic Bilbao 0 - 3 Real Madrid (Spanish League, Day 31)

Real Madrid bid farewell to San Mames with a thrashing and with the look of solidity that has seen them sting together nine league matches unbeaten, eight of which have been wins. Cristiano Ronaldo, as he was five days ago in Istanbul, was decisive. His second consecutive brace and the assist for Higuain for the third is testament to this. The Whites soon went ahead on the scoreboard. The Portuguese was the architect, scoring from a direct free-kick in the 2nd minute and becoming the currently active Spanish League player with most goals from direct free-kicks. In the second half, and again from a set piece, the Portuguese headed in Xabi Alonso’s cross before completing his magnificent performance by making the final pass for the third goal.

Real Madrid players celebrate a goal of Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano honored San Mames

Real Madrid played their last match in 'The Cathedral' with the confidence that comes from having strung together eight matches unbeaten in the championship. The Whites are the team that have won the most competitive matches in San Mames and were looking to continue in the same vein as they said goodbye to the Basque side’s famous old stadium. The start of the match could not have given more hope for that aim to come to fruition. Straight from the kick-off, following a combination between Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese was brought down by Herrera outside the area. The Portuguese masterfully executed the free-kick, put his team ahead and became the currently active La Liga player with the most goals from direct free-kicks. 0-1 and it was game on from the second minute.

The early goal from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored in eight consecutive matches, brought even more intensity to the match. The pace was frenetic and the ball was arriving in one box and the other without hardly passing through the midfield. In one of those rapid transitions, Diego Lopez had to make a full-stretch save from Susaeta’s diagonal shot in the 20th minute. With no break in play Real Madrid had the next opportunity. A great individual piece of play from Di Maria and his subsequent cross from the left was cleared by San Jose when Benzema was waiting to finish from the goal line in the 28th minute. All the same, the clearest chance of the first half was fell to the Argentine. An accurate Ramos pass with the outside of his right foot, which went over San Jose, and left the Di Maria one-on-one with Iraizoz. His 42nd minute shot found the crossbar.

If the first half was intense and exciting, the second was not far behind. The first threatening move came courtesy of Real Madrid. Marcelo's cross-shot in the 54th minute was cleared by Iraizoz and fell directly to Benzema, who also shot at the Basque side’s goalkeeper with his left. After the fifteen minutes, Mourinho decided to give his team a breath of fresh air and replaced by Di Maria with Callejon.

His team were thankful and, from another set piece, scored again. The free-kick was taken by Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo rose higher than the rest to beat Iraizoz with a header in the 68th minute. The Portuguese gave his team the distance they needed on the scoreboard and his performance, as is was five days ago in Istanbul, was decisive. He scored his second consecutive brace and gave the assist for the third by Higuain, who beat the Basque team’s goalkeeper with a shot into the far corner in 76th minute. Nine matches unbeaten in La Liga and a thrashing to bid farewell to San Mames.


Stadium: San Mames
Attendance: 40,000
Goals: 0-1, min. 2, Cristiano Ronaldo: 0-2, min. 69, Cristiano Ronaldo: 0-3, min. 76, Higuain.

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