Isco's brace powers Madrid to easy victory

Ronaldo, Modric too shine for Catalan giants as Ancelotti's side gains joint lead

Isco's brace powers Madrid to easy victory

In-form playmaker Isco struck twice and Cristiano Ronaldo netted his first goal of the campaign to give Luka Modric-inspired Real Madrid a 3-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga on Sunday.

The comfortable victory in an unusual mid-day kick-off at the Bernabeu gave Carlo Ancelotti's side a joint share of the lead in the standings with a perfect nine points from three games.

It also suggested the Real players have not been distracted by the drawn-out saga over the possible arrival of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur.

Real have until Monday night to wrap up the purchase of the Wales international, which could set a transfer record of around 100 million euros, according to media reports in Britain and Spain.

After a subdued start at the giant, sun-drenched arena, Karim Benzema dinked a pass through to Isco and the Spain playmaker, who joined from Malaga in the close season, drilled a shot past Bilbao goalkeeper Iago Herrerin.

Ronaldo powered home a header moments before half-time for his 202nd goal in 202 official games for Real and his 11th against Bilbao, putting him on a par with the club's former strikers Raul and Hugo Sanchez. Bilbao threatened a comeback on a couple of occasions before Isco picked up another assist from Benzema, again whistled by the home crowd after fluffing a number of chances, and the 21-year-old found the net with a sublime first-time strike. Ibai Gomez made the scoreline slightly more respectable for the visitors, who have now conceded 22 goals in their last five league visits to the Bernabeu, when he clipped the ball past Diego Lopez in the 79th minute after neat work on the right from fellow substitute Oscar de Marcos. Croat Modric, who started alongside Germany's Sami Khedira in central midfield, had an excellent game and the crowd chanted his name midway through the second half when he snuffed out a Bilbao attack.

"Things are going well for me," Isco said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Canal Plus.

"We have only just started the season and three wins in three is the right path to follow to make it a good year for us," he added.

"We want to keep improving little by little and aspire to win all the competitions we are taking part in." Modric has not always convinced the Real faithful since joining from Spurs but former Real forward Emilio Butragueno, now a club director, said he had turned in a "very complete performance in every sense". "He is an intelligent player capable of adapting to different positions and functions," Butragueno told Canal Plus.
Real are level with Villarreal who also have nine points from three matches after their 3-0 success at Osasuna on Saturday.

Herrera move unlikely

Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera is unlikely to leave before the transfer window closes on Monday despite an offer from English Premier League champions Manchester United, coach Ernesto Valverde said on Sunday.

The Basque club this week rejected United's move for the 24-year-old and president Josu Urrutia made it clear that if Herrera is to leave he will have to ask permission and his buyout clause of 36 million euros must be paid.

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