Karim Benzema struck a double as Real Madrid took advantage of Barcelona’s slip at Celta Vigo to move top of La Liga courtesy of a 2-1 success at Athletic Bilbao.
The French forward opened the scoring with a predatory finish following Mikel San Jose’s woeful back pass and then tapped home his sixth goal in five matches 20 minutes from time after Sabin Merino had levelled with a superb second-half header.
Real keeper, Keylor Navas had hoped to break a 40-year-old club record for shut-outs but could do little to keep out the Bilbao forward’s header as the hosts dominated the second half after Madrid had wasted a raft of chances in the first period.
Cristiano Ronaldo went into the contest aiming to edge closer to Raul’s all-time goalscoring record but rarely looked like adding to his own tally on a night when the three points was what mattered most for Benitez and co.
The result sees Real move top of La Liga on goal difference from Celta Vigo, with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona one point behind in third and fourth respectively.