Sergio Ramos was Real Madrid’s penalty hero for the second time in four days as a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao sent the LaLiga leaders seven points clear.
Zinedine Zidane’s men have been flawless since the season’s restart to claim control of the title rice, but they were given a stern test by Getafe on Thursday and again had their work cut out for a time on Sunday.
Yet as against Getafe, Ramos stepped up to net a second-half penalty and secure all three points in Bilbao, with his latest decisive goal coming after Dani Garcia tripped Marcelo in the area to prompt a VAR review.
A seventh straight victory ensured Madrid made the most of playing before rivals Barcelona, who will kick-off at Villarreal later in the day knowing they have an even more significant gap to make up.
Madrid recalled Marco Asensio for his first start of the season in a move which almost brought immediate reward.
The fit-again forward drew a low save from a fourth-minute free-kick, with Karim Benzema then unable to direct his header goalwards when Dani Carvajal squared the rebound.
That was about the extent of Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon’s involvement before half-time, while Thibaut Courtois repelled Raul Garcia’s powerful header at the other end.
Simon might have had a far greater role to play, though, as both Rodrygo and Benzema squandered huge headed opportunities from searching Asensio centres, each missing the target completely.
The second period appeared set to play out in similarly frustrating fashion for Madrid until Marcelo went down in the area and a penalty was eventually awarded, with Ramos coolly tucking his finish inside the left-hand post in the 73rd minute.
Simon saved smartly with his legs from Benzema in the closing stages, but the one Ramos goal proved enough for Madrid again.
Madrid have not been very as in vogue in their previous two matches as in prior exhibitions, yet Getafe and Athletic gave possibly dubious rivals.
In the two games, Los Blancos needed to depend on late punishments. In any case, given the moderately kind installations to come, it was significant Zidane’s side just gathered the focuses in any capacity conceivable. They are well on course for the title now.
Asensio merits help
This has been a troublesome season for Asensio because of injury, yet he may yet have a key task to carry out in the spat.
The Spain global was included from the start at San Mames and twice was let somewhere around colleagues following fine crosses. His conveyances for Rodrygo and Benzema were asking to be gestured in.
Ramos rash at the back
Ramos has now scored five enormous objectives in the previous month, yet his work at the opposite finish of the contribute was of slight concern Sunday’s first half.
The inside back was appreciative to an offside banner after a dreadful early slip that let in Inaki Williams, who soon benefitted from some increasingly miserable shielding on midway. Eder Militao stepped in magnificently on that event and regularly struggled Williams alone.
After several intense tests with hardly a pause in between, Madrid will invite the chance to rest until Friday when they have out-of-structure Deportivo Alaves. Bilbao’s next experience is a home conflict with Sevilla on Thursday.