Real hammer Athletic in Bernabeu romp
Cristiano Ronaldo drew a rare blank, but Real Madrid still enjoyed a comprehensive 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in Spain's Primera Division tonight.
It was unclear whether Real's first goal came from Karim Benzema or an own-goal from the unfortunate Jon Aurtenetxe, but there was never any doubt about the result which took Jose Mourinho's side back to within eight points of leaders Barcelona.
Sergio Ramos made it 2-0 after 30 minutes and Benzema made absolutely sure of getting his name on the scoresheet with a superb finish soon after, while Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira also got in on the act.
There was an unusual 'route-one' feel about Real's opener on 11 minutes, although that would be doing a slight injustice to the superb long ball played by Luka Modric from deep inside his own half.
Benzema brought it under control, but Aurtenetxe refused to give up the chase and Benzema's attempted shot seemed to loop up off the defender's outstretched foot on its way over goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.
There was nothing Iraizoz could do about the second goal on 29 minutes either, with Sergio Ramos left unmarked to stoop and head Ozil's cross into the bottom corner.
And the game was over as a contest just two minutes later as Benzema collected Jose Maria Callejon's pass just inside the area before turning and curling a left-footed shot into the corner.
Callejon almost made it 4-0 on 40 minutes, but he was denied by the post, and just a few seconds later Bilbao had reduced the deficit. The visitors broke down the right and Markel Susaeta picked out Ibai Gomez in space in the area to superbly sweep a low shot into the corner beyond a furious Iker Casillas.
However, any thoughts of a fightback were extinguished ten minutes into the second half when Benzema turned provider with a low cross that Ozil had the simple task of turning home from seven yards.
Benzema was denied another goal just three minutes later when he deftly clipped the ball over the advancing Iraizoz only to see Aurtenetxe get back to head clear from just in front of the line.
But it always looked likely that Real would score again and substitute Sami Khedira duly got on the scoresheet with 20 minutes to go when his low shot squirmed under Iraizoz's body.