Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Real Madrid: Ramos sends leaders seven points clear

By Sports Desk July 05, 2020

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.

Related items

  • Diego Maradona dies: 'The poetry of football' – Conte and Zidane remember all-time great Diego Maradona dies: 'The poetry of football' – Conte and Zidane remember all-time great

    Inter head coach Antonio Conte described Diego Maradona as "the poetry of football" following the Argentina and Napoli great's death on Wednesday.

    Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died at the age of 60 after a suspected heart attack, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed midweek.

    World Cup winner Maradona was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago following brain surgery, having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

    Conte came up against Maradona during his time with boyhood club Lecce in Serie A, and he lauded the former Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata head coach following Wednesday's 2-0 Champions League loss to Real Madrid.

    "We are all shedding tears for the loss of a man who wrote football history and will always be an indelible figure in this sport," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

    "He was the poetry of football. I had the pleasure of playing against him, of marking him, and it still doesn't seem real that he's gone, especially as he was still young. It's very sad."

    Madrid boss Zidane also spoke glowingly of Maradona after the LaLiga champions won at San Siro for the first time in their history.

    Former France international Zidane – also a World Cup winner – added: "It's an enormous loss for the world of football.

    "I have him engrained in my head because of what he did at the 1986 World Cup. I was 14 years old... I have no words. We're all very sad."

    Maradona, the captain and inspiration behind Argentina's World Cup success in 1986 before going on to coach his country at the 2010 showpiece, had been hospitalised just days after turning 60.

    He appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as his Gimnasia side played a match on the evening of his birthday last month.

    Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

    He started his career with Argentinos Juniors before joining Boca Juniors and went on to play for Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys before returning to Boca in 1995.

    Maradona had the best years of his club career in Italy, playing a massive part in Napoli winning the Serie A title in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons.

    Playmaker Maradona also lifted the UEFA Cup with Napoli in 1989 and he won three trophies during his time at Barca – including the Copa del Rey in 1983.

    Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed by Gimnasia last year.

  • Zidane: Vazquez deserves Real Madrid contract renewal Zidane: Vazquez deserves Real Madrid contract renewal

    Zinedine Zidane says Lucas Vazquez "has Real Madrid in his heart" and deserves to be offered a new contract by the club.

    The Spain international has started seven games for Madrid this season but is due to be out of contract at the end of the campaign.

    He played the full 90 minutes of Wednesday's 2-0 win over Inter in the Champions League and impressed with his direct attacking display.

    As well as setting up substitute Rodrygo for his side's second goal, which deflected off Achraf Hakimi, adding to Eden Hazard's early penalty, Vazquez also had more shots (four) than any player on the field.

    Vazquez has showed his versatility by also featuring at right-back at times and Zidane wants the 29-year-old academy product to be rewarded with fresh terms.

    "He always gives everything for us. I have always valued him and what he gives to us on the pitch," Zidane told Movistar+.

    "Now he is having the opportunity to show us what he is all about. He was a youth player for us and has Madrid in his heart. I'm happy for him and the team.

    "He is an important player and the club knows it. I think it will happen that he will renew."

    Hazard's seventh-minute penalty was his first Champions League goal since November 2017 on his fourth start of another disrupted campaign.

    He got 78 minutes under his belt, having also started the 1-1 draw with Villarreal last weekend, and Zidane hopes the Belgium forward can soon find his rhythm.

    "I'm happy because he's playing. He needs to play and get his football back. For the good of the team, let him keep growing, because we need him."

    Madrid's two goals came either side of Arturo Vidal being issued quick-fire yellow cards for dissent 33 minutes into the game after being denied a penalty.

    The victory for Zidane's men was their first ever away at Inter in European competition and put them a point behind Group B leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, with Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter three and five points worse off than Madrid respectively.

    "We played a great game from the beginning to the end," Zidane said. "We played serious and with character. They were three very important points and we got the best of us.

    "I'm happy with the players. When they have to turn it on, they turn it on."

  • Conte: Real Madrid defeat shows the path Inter must take Conte: Real Madrid defeat shows the path Inter must take

    Inter head coach Antonio Conte said his players should not be downbeat following their 2-0 Champions League loss to Real Madrid as it showed exactly what they must do to reach the level of their opponents.

    Eden Hazard's early penalty and substitute Rodrygo's second-half strike in Wednesday's Champions League clash condemned Inter to their first ever home loss against LaLiga champions Madrid.

    It is the first time Inter have failed to win any of their opening four group games in the illustrious European competition and leaves their hopes of progressing to the last 16 in tatters.

    The Nerazzurri are bottom of Group B, five points adrift of Madrid in second and a further point behind leaders Borussia Monchengladbach with two rounds of fixtures remaining.

    Madrid's goals came either side of Arturo Vidal's sending off, the midfielder issued with two quick-fire yellow cards for dissent, which under-fire coach Conte feels was a turning point at San Siro.

    "It was always going to be difficult playing against big clubs like Real Madrid, so when going a goal down and a man down, it becomes an impossible mountain to climb," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

    "I think we saw the difference between them and us. It shouldn't knock us down. It should show us there's a path we must take.

    "We need to be hungry, hard-working and humble, to realise where we are and not let ourselves get swayed by voices from the outside.

    "The only path forward is to work hard and grow in every possible way."

    Vidal was unhappy not to have been awarded a penalty when put under pressure by Raphael Varane inside the box and was dismissed by English referee Anthony Taylor after just 33 minutes in Milan.

    Chile international Vidal became the third player in Champions League history to be sent off for three different clubs, along with Patrick Vieira and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Conte questioned the decision.

    "I prefer not to talk about the referee, even if they should be smart not to ruin certain games in this way," he said. "Unless, of course, Vidal has said something very strong to him. He has killed the game."

    Inter had just 38 per cent of possession and had only one attempt on target – Ivan Perisic testing Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the final 10 minutes with a weak shot.

    Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku managed four touches in the opposition box between them but Conte does not believe his side have an issue with their attack.

    "We're not weak upfront as we score plenty of goals," he said. "We are perhaps conceding a few too many at the moment. 

    "As I said, the game was immediately an uphill struggle and it became difficult to get back into it due to a red card that was caused by an excessive protest.

    "This is the situation, we accept it. We had done much better and were more aggressive in Madrid, but it was tough here to be almost immediately 1-0 down and then see a player sent off. 

    "That knocked the wind out of us. But nonetheless, I think the team worked very hard today and put the effort in. Don't forget, we were against Real Madrid and not the bottom of the table club."

    Serie A hopefuls Inter travel to Monchengladbach in their next group game and host Shakhtar Donetsk on the final matchday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.