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Madrid falter, Lopetegui demands good finishing
- Updated: September 16, 2018
Real Madrid were given a reality check under new manager Julen Lopetegui as Athletic Bilbao proved too strong to overcome at the San Memes on Saturday night.
Real were coming off the back of 3 consecutive wins in the league but had to settle for a point against the Basque country club.
It was a fierce game that saw tempers flaring from time to time with the final outcome seeing Los Blancos sitting two points behind title rivals Barcelona.
Athletic took the lead through Iker Munaian in the 32nd minute through a well worked out counter attack.
Julen Lopetegui’s men sought to respond in but their attempts were thwarted by an impressive 21-year-old Unai Simon in goal for the home side.
The breakthrough for Real Madrid came in the 63rd minute after some good work and a cross from Gareth Bale was directed into the goal with a header from Isco for the equalizer.
This was after Casemiro had come on for Los Blancos at the start of the second half to provide an anchor in midfield. The decision paid off as improvement was seen after his introduction.
Real Madrid were now dominating but the goalkeeper came to the fore yet again by denying the likes of Sergio Ramos and Marco Asensio.
Athletic were set up as a counter-attacking side on the night as they looked to exploit Madrid’s vulnerabilities at the back when they attacked in numbers in search of a winner.
More controversy came up when a penalty was denied the home side after the ball struck Casemiro’s arm when he was on the floor.
The decision appeared to enrage the home side and their supporters as 8 yellow cards were issued by the referee, with 6 going to Athletic.
The outcome saw Lopetegui demanding that his men be more clinical with the chances they create.
Meanwhile, the likes of Benzema and Bale were kept out on the night but Real Madrid have to avoid further slips this early in the season, especially after Barcelona crawled back from a goal down to beat Real Sociedad 2:1 at the Anoeta and establish a 2 point gap.
All attention will now be turned to the UEFA Champions League where Real Madrid commence a fourth consecutive title defense against Serie A side Roma at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.