Sergio Ramos’ second-half penalty sent Real Madrid seven points clear at the top of La Liga after beating hosts Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at the San Mames stadium.
The game was exactly as expected, with Madrid working hard to create very few openings in the baking heat of San Mames in the first period.
The second period appeared set to play out in similarly frustrating fashion for Madrid, until Marcelo went down in the area. The referee didn’t point to the spot for a penalty, however, after checking the TV monitor on the touchline a penalty was awarded. Ramos stepped up.
Sergio Ramos coolly tucked his finish inside the left-hand post in the 73rd minute. It was his fifth goal in seven games since La Liga returned last month, and proved the difference after an intense encounter.
Madrid held out through a tense finale in which Ramos also made a vital clearance, and there was a bad-tempered ending as Iker Muniain was angered by a Luka Modric’s nutmeg deep in added time and was booked along with Ramos and Casemiro.
Courtois became the first goalkeeper to keep 17 clean sheets for Real Madrid in a single La Liga season, since Francisco Buyo in 1994/95.
Defending champions Barcelona will visit Villarreal and will be hoping to bring the gap back to four points.