MADRID: Karim Benzema saved Real Madrid with two goals that gave the defending champions a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao next to La Liga leader Real Sociedad.
The Frenchman headed in Dani Carvajal’s pass with 16 minutes left to put Real ahead after Bilbao bounced back early in the game to equalize even though Raul Garcia was sent off for two yellow cards.
Toni Kroos gave Madrid an early goal in the first half but Ander Capa surprised the club from the capital after a break when they overcame Thibaut Courtois.
32-year-old Benzema put his team back in front before securing three full points before the end of the game with a good finish from Luka Modric’s pass.
Third-placed Madrid created their fourth consecutive victory in all competitions and are now 26 points equal to Sociedad, who will face Barcelona at the Camp Nou early tomorrow morning as well as challengers from the same city, Atletico Madrid.
Barca are nine points behind but play one of two games in their hands in a bid to regain the pace of a difficult season for them.