Real Remain in La Liga Fight Thanks to Nacho Strike

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Soccer Football – La Liga Santander – Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid – San Mames, Bilbao, Spain – May 16, 2021 Athletic Bilbao’s Mikel Balenziaga in action with Real Madrid’s Rodrygo REUTERS/Vincent West

BILBAO ⸺ Real Madrid ensured the La Liga title race will go down to the final weekend as they beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at San Mames on Sunday thanks to a second-half goal from defender Nacho Fernandez.

The result sees second-placed Real move onto 81 points, two behind city rivals Atletico Madrid, who beat Osasuna 2-1 on Sunday thanks to two late goals.

In a first half shorn of clear-cut chances, Real were adamant they should have had a penalty when Alvaro Odriozola’s cross hit Jon Morcillo’s arm, however referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz waved away the protests.

Soccer Football – La Liga Santander – Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid – San Mames, Bilbao, Spain – May 16, 2021 Real Madrid’s Casemiro in action REUTERS/Vincent West

Bilbao almost opened the scoring on the stroke of halftime, however Alex Berenguer’s free kick bounced just wide of Thibaut Courtois’s far post.

Casemiro had a header bounce back off the crossbar shortly after the restart, however the Brazilian midfielder then teed up defender Nacho from close range to give Zinedine Zidane’s side a priceless three points.

Substitute Raul Garcia was sent off late on for the hosts for what appeared to be something he said to the assistant referee.

“Obviously we wanted to win, and for Atleti to drop points, but there’s a long way to go still,” Nacho said. 

Soccer Football – La Liga Santander – Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid – San Mames, Bilbao, Spain – May 16, 2021 Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema in action with Athletic Bilbao’s Yeray and Oscar de Marcos REUTERS/Vincent West

“They came back to win at the death and that shows things aren’t easy. We just need to concentrate on ourselves and see how it goes next time out (against Villarreal next Sunday).

“You can see how tough it was for them to win. In the game of football anything can happen, we need to fight until the last, that’s our job.

“It’s a tough place to come and win. Bilbao give up few chances, but we were great in defence. It was more difficult up top, but we were compact and we got the three points which is all that matters.”

Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Toby Davis; Reuters

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