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Sunday, January 2, 2022

La Liga: Real Madrid extend lead as Marcelino bemoan loss

Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the game as Real Madrid extended their lead at the top of La Liga to seven points by beating Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

The France international scored his 17th goal of the season when he diverted home Luka Modric’s wayward shot five minutes before half-time.

The visitors pressed late on but were unable to find an equaliser and remain eighth, without a win in six games.

Victory extended Real’s advantage over defending champions Atletico Madrid as La Liga season enters Week 15.

And Carlo Ancelotti’s side were dominant for long periods, having 62% possession and 17 shots on goal.

They made the breakthrough when Benzema turned home from 10 yards for his 12th league goal of the season after Modric skewed a shot into his path when Unai Simon parried Marco Asensio’s effort.

Benzema has now scored 35 goals in 46 games in all competitions for Real in 2021, equalling his best goalscoring tally in a single calendar year for the club in 2019. He currently leads the La Liga scoring chart with 12 goals.

Mikel Vesga was twice denied by good Real blocks, while Yeray and Oier Zarraga both failed to hit the target with late efforts.

Meanwhile, Athletic Club head coach Marcelino felt his team deserved more from the game, but unfortunately for them, they have been poor finishing chances all season in La Liga, and Real Madrid pulled out all the heroics to stop them in the second half.

“Let’s hope the dynamics change. I’ve been a coach for many years and I haven’t seen this in my life,” Marcelino said of his team’s bad luck in front of goal. “It can happen in one game, but not in so many in a row. I only have words of praise and gratitude for what my players have done.

Marcelino on his team not taking chances tonight (and it being a theme all season): “I’ve been a coach for many years and I haven’t seen this in my life”

“The analysis It’s simple,” Marcelino continued. “It’s incredible not to have won. Football is that unfair, but the one who scores more goals than the rival wins.

“To beat Real Madrid or Barcelona you have to get it right in what little you have and for them not to do it, and today we have had a lot of chances, and we didn’t get it right. Football is cruel, especially when these situations are repeated.”

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