Real Madrid punishes Bielsa's Bilbao

BY foxsports • January 22, 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two penalties to lead Real Madrid to a 4-1 comeback victory over 10-man Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, keeping the Spanish leader five points clear despite Barcelona's 4-1 win at Malaga that featured a hat trick from Lionel Messi.

A youthful Bilbao went ahead through Fernando Llorente's 13th-minute opener in an electric start for the Basques at Santiago Bernabeu stadium, before Marcelo charged into the area to level for Madrid in the 25th.

Ronaldo stroked home a pair of spot kicks in the second half and Jose Callejon added a late goal to secure the hosts a much-needed win following their midweek 2-1 home loss to Barcelona.

That defeat led the disgruntled crowd to jeer Madrid coach Jose Mourinho throughout Sunday's game, the first public outcry against the Portuguese since his arrival in 2010.

''In the first half we committed a lot of defensive errors because of our opponent,'' said Mourinho. ''But even when losing 1-0 the team kept playing well, and in the second half our defensive errors dropped and we eventually won easily.''

Barcelona holds a 2-1 lead and hosts Madrid on Wednesday in the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, but Madrid defender Marcelo isn't giving up.

''You can expected Madrid to fight to the finish,'' he said.

Mourinho, whose tactics against Barcelona have been questioned, made a number of changes to the defensive side that lost to Madrid's fierce rival. He gave rare starts to Kaka, midfielder Esteban Granero and brought back playmaker Mesut Oezil and Marcelo to match Bilbao's attack-minded starting 11.

One of the players Mourinho left on the bench was Pepe following four days of heavy criticism toward the defender for stomping on Messi against Barcelona.

As billed, the match against Bilbao was an up-and-down affair.

Llorente finished a lightening-fast attack after Ander Herrera had played the ball wide to Javi Martinez, who sent a perfect cross to the far post for the Spain striker to bang in a left-footed volley.

But the open flow of the contest quickly led to Marcelo's leveler. The Brazil defender strung together a pair of one-two passes with Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to penetrate the heart of the defense and fire into the net.

Ronaldo put Madrid in front from the penalty spot two minutes after the break, when Ander Iturraspe tugged Kaka down in the box. The Portugal forward then gave Madrid the cushion it needed in the 67th after Oscar de Marcos was shown a direct red for fouling Oezil in front of goal.

Ronaldo's double took his league-high to 23 goals, one more than Messi's total.

''Until the time of the sending off we played on level terms with them,'' Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa said. ''With one man less it made it more difficult for us to defend and to attack, too.''

Callejon cashed in on Madrid's numerical advantage by scoring from a breakaway in the 86th.


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