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2018-2019 Spanish Primera División
  • Karim Benzema (47', 76', 90')

Real Madrid down Athletic Bilbao thanks to Benzema's hat trick

Real Madrid tightened their stranglehold on third place in La Liga as Karim Benzema's hat trick earned them a 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao.

The Frenchman continued his scintillating form as he made it 30 goals in all competitions for the season -- and 21 in La Liga.

Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane started with Gareth Bale on the bench as Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio flanked Benzema in attack.

Athletic still had an outside chance of making the Champions League places coming into kick-off and it was a scrappy first half with plenty of fouls, but little free-flowing play.

However, just a minute into the second half, and the deadlock was broken as Madrid's man of the moment Benzema met Asensio's cross to head past goalkeeper Iago Herrerin.

The visitors rarely threatened to pull a goal back and Benzema put the game out of sight with a second header on 76 minutes as Herrerin woefully misjudged the incoming corner.

And, in stoppage time, Benzema scored the best of the lot as he profited from a defensive mix-up to score with a long-range lob. The 31-year-old has now scored each of Madrid's last eight goals.

"We all know how good Karim is and what he brings to the side, whether he's scoring or not," teammate Marcelo told BeIN Sports. "He's one of our leaders.

"I'm delighted with the goals but I know Karim will be more happy with the fact we have won. We really needed a win more than simply just scoring goals."

Zidane's men remain four points behind second-place Atletico, and 12 ahead of Sevilla, who sit just outside the Champions League places. Athletic stay in seventh.

Spanish Primera División Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Barcelona 15 +23 34
2 Real Madrid 15 +21 34
3 Sevilla FC 16 +5 31
4 Real Sociedad 16 +8 27
5 Getafe 16 +8 27
6 Athletic Bilbao 16 +7 26
7 Atletico Madrid 16 +6 26
8 Valencia 16 +3 26
9 Granada 16 +3 24
10 Osasuna 16 +4 23
11 Real Betis 16 -5 22
12 Levante 16 -5 20
13 Villarreal 16 +4 19
14 Real Valladolid 16 -4 19
15 Alavés 16 -6 18
16 Eibar 16 -13 15
17 Mallorca 16 -12 14
18 Celta Vigo 16 -11 13
19 Leganes 16 -16 9
20 Espanyol 16 -20 9