Match ends, Real Madrid 4, Athletic Club 2.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 4-2 to go a point behind league leaders Barcelona.
Ronaldo scored his 20th La Liga goal of the season as he curled home Real's opener after just two minutes.
Athletic levelled when Javier Eraso side-footed in but James Rodriguez made it 2-1 with a long-range strike.
Toni Kroos added a third just before half-time and after Raphael Varane had been sent off, Ronaldo scored again before Gorka Elustondo's late header.
The win lifted Real above Atletico Madrid into second place in the table, although Atletico and Barcelona both play on Sunday.
Real remain unbeaten under coach Zinedine Zidane after winning their seventh successive home league game.
But it wasn't as comfortable as the score suggested in the first half as Athletic created several chances against an uncertain home defence.
Top scorer Artiz Aduriz, 35, could have had a hat-trick before the break as he headed wide, flicked an effort against the bar and saw Keylor Navas save another heading opportunity.
Real made their superior finishing count though, with Ronaldo taking his total this season to 31 goals in all competitions with the opening goal.
Rodriguez made it two goals in three games, having not previously scored in La Liga since November, while Kroos scored his first goal of the season as he turned onto a Ronaldo pass to score with a deflected shot.
Real, who play at Roma in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday, then cruised through the second half before the late flurry of activity.
Varane, who had been at fault for Athletic's first-half equaliser, received a second caution for an innocuous looking aerial challenge on Aduriz with seven minutes to go.
Ten-man Real added a fourth when Ronaldo controlled a cross from Lucas Vazquez to drill the ball home before Elustondo nodded in an Oscar de Marcos cross in the last minute to pull one back for the visitors.
What they said:
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane: "The Press are here to opine on whether Ronaldo plays well or badly, if he is finished, but today he has showed he is brilliant.
"You will always have errors but I am not worried about that. I think we were good physically, on the ball and I am happy with what we did.
"We are ready for the match against Roma. We are in shape, playing well, and very pleased with how we played today against a very good rival. We are prepared for Wednesday."
- 23DaniloSubstituted forNachoat 69'minutes
- 2VaraneBooked at 83mins
- 19ModricBooked at 71mins
- 16KovacicSubstituted forIscoat 72'minutes
- 10RodríguezSubstituted forVázquezat 80'minutes
- 7Cristiano Ronaldo
- 20Rodríguez Ruiz
- 1Iraizoz Moreno
- 10De Marcos Arana
- 16Etxeita GorritxategiBooked at 14mins
- 24Balenziaga OruesagastiBooked at 43mins
- 7Etxebarria Urkiaga
- 8Iturraspe DerteanoSubstituted forElustondo Urkolaat 62'minutes
- 25Merino ZuloagaSubstituted forVigueraat 80'minutes
- 5Eraso Goñi
- 30Lekue MartínezSubstituted forMuniain Goñiat 69'minutes
- 2Bóveda Altube
- 3Elustondo Urkola
- 13Herrerín Buisán
- 17Rico Moreno
- 18Gurpegi Nausia
- 19Muniain Goñi
- Alfonso Javier Álvarez Izquierdo
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Real Madrid 4, Athletic Club 2.
Nacho (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Borja Viguera (Athletic Club).
Goal! Real Madrid 4, Athletic Club 2. Elustondo (Athletic Club) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by De Marcos with a cross.
Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Gorka Iraizoz.
Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Balenziaga.
Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Gorka Iraizoz.
Attempt saved. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Attempt blocked. Isco (Real Madrid) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Karim Benzema.
Goal! Real Madrid 4, Athletic Club 1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lucas Vázquez.
Corner, Athletic Club. Conceded by Nacho.
Second yellow card to Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) for a bad foul.
Foul by Raphael Varane (Real Madrid).
Aduriz (Athletic Club) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Nacho with a cross.
Attempt saved. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Isco.
Substitution, Real Madrid. Lucas Vázquez replaces James Rodríguez.
Substitution, Athletic Club. Borja Viguera replaces Sabin.
Offside, Real Madrid. James Rodríguez tries a through ball, but Karim Benzema is caught offside.