April 19, 2018 09:14 AM NPT
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, was again in scintillating form to spare Real's blushes. (AAP)
Cristiano Ronaldo has saved Real Madrid with a late equaliser in his side's 1-1 La Liga draw with Athletic Bilbao.
Cristiano Ronaldo came through for Real Madrid again, this time with a backheel flick that saved his team from a loss in the Spanish league.
Ronaldo netted an 87th-minute equaliser with a subtle touch of the ball with his back to the goal, redirecting a low shot by Luka Modric from outside the area to give Madrid a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.
The goal added to Ronaldo's impressive scoring run and kept Madrid in the fight for second place, three points from Atletico Madrid, who visit Real Sociedad on Thursday.
Barcelona, who drew 2-2 at Celta Vigo on Tuesday, hold a 12-point lead at the top of the standings.
Inaki Williams put Athletic ahead with a chip from inside the area in the 14th, but Madrid pressured throughout the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium until finally breaking through with the neat close-range touch by Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar extended his scoring streak to 12 consecutive matches, which equals his best run with the Spanish club. During that stretch he has scored 22 goals, and netted 26 times in his last 15 matches.
"We leave with mixed feelings," Athletic coach Jose Angel Ziganda said. "The team played well throughout the match. It was a pity to concede that goal in the end. We were close to victory."
Athletic nearly made it 2-0 when Raul Garcia struck the crossbar with a shot from near the penalty spot in the 66th.
Ronaldo had struck the woodwork with a header early in the first half.
"We are happy with our performance but not with the result," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "We lacked calm on the final pass and ended up making too many crosses into the area, which was not ideal."
It was the third straight game without a win at home for Madrid.
Valencia stayed fourth after a 2-1 home loss to Getafe, their second straight setback after an unbeaten nine-match run.
Loic Remy scored a goal in each half for Getafe, who moved to eighth place while Rodrigo scored his seventh goal in seven matches for Valencia.
The hosts played the final minutes with 10 men as Dani Parejo was sent off for elbowing an opponent.
Espanyol lost 1-0 to Eibar at home, extending their winless streak to five matches and increasing pressure on coach Enrique "Quique" Sanchez Flores.
Fans jeered the team and called for Quique's dismissal after the loss, the team's third straight.
Espanyol, who haven't scored in five matches, are still in danger of relegation and are in 16th place - nine points from the relegation zone.
Eibar defender David Lomban netted the game's winner with a 32nd-minute header.