MADRID: Spanish champions Real Madrid maintained their remarkable revival by defeating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 in the Spanish league.

Just over a week ago local media was speculating about the departure of coach Zinedine Zidane. Now such talk is being dismissed after qualification for the Champions League second round and successive victories over then-league leaders Atletico Madrid and now the latter’s original parent club.

Two goals from Karim Benzema led Madrid to a fourth successive victory in all competitions.

Athletic forward Raul Garcia was sent off in the 13th minute for a second booking and Madrid took the lead at the end of the first half thanks to a low drive from Toni Kroos.

The Basque side continued to cope well with their numerical disadvantage into the second half and grabbed an equaliser through Ander Capa in the 52nd minute before Benzema headed the champions back in front in the 74th.

Athletic substitute Mikel Vesga wasted a fine chance to equalise in added time but was thwarted by an outstanding save from Thibaut Courtois and Benzema killed the game off by finishing on the counter-attack.

In Germany new Borussia Dortmund coach Edin Terzic enjoyed a winning debut as they won narrowly by 2-1 away to Werder Bremen for their first win in four league games. In Italy Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio dropped more points as his brother Filippo’s Benevento frustrated their visitors to Campania in a 1-1 draw in Serie A.

** The Basque¬†football federation has applied to the sport’s world governing body FIFA and European soccer organisation UEFA to be office ially recognised so the regional team can compete in international competition.

** Vanderlei Luxemburgo, former Brazil and Real Madrid coach, has been admitted to hospital in Sao Paulo suffering from Covid-19.