Ramos controversial penalty helps Real Madrid maintain four point La Liga lead

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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.

 

What does it mean? Madrid unscathed after testing week

Madrid have not been quite as stylish in their past two matches as in earlier performances, but Getafe and Athletic provided potentially tricky opponents.

In both games, Los Blancos had to rely on late penalties. But given the relatively kind fixtures to come, it was crucial Zidane's side simply collected the points in any way possible. They are well on course for the title now.

Asensio deserves assist

This has been a difficult season for Asensio due to injury, but he might yet have a key role to play in the run-in.

The Spain international was involved from the outset at San Mames and twice was let down by team-mates following fine crosses. His deliveries for Rodrygo and Benzema were begging to be nodded in.

Ramos rash at the back

Ramos has now scored five massive goals in the past month, but his work at the other end of the pitch was of slight concern in Sunday's first half.

The centre-back was grateful to an offside flag following an awful early slip that let in Inaki Williams, who soon profited from some more hopeless defending on halfway. Eder Militao stepped in superbly on that occasion and often battled Williams alone.

What's next?

After a couple of tough tests in quick succession, Madrid will welcome the opportunity to rest until Friday when they host out-of-form Deportivo Alaves. Bilbao's next encounter is a home clash with Sevilla on Thursday.

Source Omnisport