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Isco propels Real to victory

An in-form Isco and Ronaldo power Real Madrid past Athletic Bilbao as Barca edge Valencia in Spain's Primera Division.

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2013 21:22
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Spanish playmaker Isco joined from Malaga in the close season and looks to have settled in comfortably [GETTY]

Francisco "Isco'' Alarcon scored twice and Cristiano Ronaldo added another goal Sunday to give Real Madrid a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, hours before the Spanish club announced it had signed Gareth Bale from Tottenham for a rumoured record transfer fee.

Not to be overshadowed by Bale's imminent arrival, Barcelona's Lionel Messi needed 41 minutes to score a hat trick at Valencia in a thrilling 3-2 victory for the defending Spanish league champions.

After not scoring in Madrid's first two wins to start the Spanish Primera Division, Ronaldo headed in Madrid's second goal in first-half injury time to add to Isco's 26th-minute opener from Karim Benzema's pass.

Results & fixtures

Friday 30 August

Almeria 2-2 Elche
Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Levante

Saturday 31 August

Celta de Vigo 1-1 Granada
Valladolid 1-0 Getafe
Osasuna 0-3 Villarreal

Sunday 1 September

Real 3-1 Athletic Bilbao
Espanyol 0-0 Real Betis
Real Sociedad 1-2 Atl Madrid
Sevilla 2-2 Malaga
Valencia 2-3 Barcelona

Benzema assisted Isco again in the 73rd for his third goal in as many games since joining from Malaga this offseason.

Improving

"Things are going well considering we have just started the season, three for three so far,'' said the 21-year-old Isco.

"We are getting better game by game. That's our goal.''

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti started Diego Lopez instead of Iker Casillas for the third straight match, but the goalkeeper could do nothing to stop substitute Ibai Gomez from getting Bilbao's consolation goal in the 79th.

Before the match started, Madrid dismantled a stage it had set up inside the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium last weekend supposedly for Bale's presentation.

It is expected to go back up soon with the market set to close and Tottenham having spent $133 million this summer and with the chance to make most of that back by selling its star player.

Isco poked his first goal under goalkeeper Iago Herrerin after Benzema set him up with a scooped pass made easier by Bilbao's Andoni Iraola who failed to move forward with the rest of the defensive line, leaving Isco onside to take the ball alone in the area.

Benat Etxebarria almost levelled for Bilbao with a free kick on the half-hour mark, but a misplaced pass Madrid threaten on the counterattack with Isco and Benzema leading the way.

Ronaldo extended the hosts' lead by running free to head Angel Di Maria's dipping free kick into the corner of the net.

The Portugal forward was denied another goal by Herrerin in the 68th when he made a one-handed parry to push Ronaldo's driving free kick around his post.

Isco fired in Madrid's third after controlling Benzema's short cross with one touch and scored to ensure Bilbao would suffer their first loss of the season following two victories.

Atletico win

Elsewhere, Atletico won 2-1 at Real Sociedad thanks to David Villa's goal in the 27th and assist for Jorge "Koke'' Resurreccion to add a second in the 56th.

Sociedad's Xabi Prieto halved the final difference in the 69th in a clash between two teams set to make long-awaited returns to the Champions League.

Atletico, Barcelona, Madrid and Villarreal are the only teams with three wins in as many rounds.

Espanyol, meanwhile, remained unbeaten after drawing 0-0 at home with the winless Real Betis, while Malaga drew 2-2 at Sevilla.

607

Source:
AP
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