La Liga midweek roundup: Real Madrid return to summit, Celta Vigo stun Barcelona


By Toby Prince


Karim Benzema scored a brace as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at San Mames to go top of the Primera Division on goal difference.

The Frenchman took advantage of an embarrassing error by Athletic defender Mikel San Jose to put Madrid ahead on 19 minutes and then restored their lead in the second half just three minutes after Sabin Merino had headed the Basques level.

This was by no means a vintage performance from Los Blancos, but thanks to Benzema’s ruthlessness they picked up a fourth straight league win to go top of the league, ahead of Celta Vigo on goal difference.

Rafa Benitez was still without Sergio Ramos, Danilo, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale, but the coach handed a first start to Mateo Kovacic.

Benitez likened his side to a chameleon changing its colour following the victory.

“I’m happy with the win,” he said after the game.

“The team showed their two faces; possession in the first half and character and suffering in the second. ”

Iago Aspas struck twice as unbeaten Celta Vigo shattered Barcelona’s 100 percent start in La Liga with a 4-1 win at Balaidos.

Ex-Barca youngster Nolito also continued his fine start to the season with a stunning opener and substitute John Guidett struck for rampant Celta after Neymar had claimed a consolation.

Celta victory lifted them one point above Barca in the Primera Division and inflicted the highest defeat on Luis Enrique as the Catalan coach.

“I’m not happy to lose 4-1,” Enrique said after the game.

“I’ll evaluate and analyse it but it’s a test to show how difficult it can be.”