(Reuters) – Champions Real Madrid cruised to a 2-0 victory in a spirited LaLiga encounter at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday to ensure they remain in the hunt for the LaLiga title with leaders Barcelona .

Barca have moved to 44 points in the standings after their 1-0 win over Getafe earlier on Sunday. They are three points ahead of Real and six points ahead of third-placed Real Sociedad. Bilbao are eighth with 26 points.

Real Madrid, beaten by Villarreal in their last league game, secured the points with a first-half goal from Karim Benzema and a strike from Toni Kroos in injury time.

In the 23rd minute, Marco Asensio’s imposing header fell into Benzema’s path and the Frenchman quickly unleashed a left-footed volley into the top left corner.

After Athletic and Real Madrid both squandered numerous scoring chances, the visitors extended their lead in the 91st minute when Rodrygo found substitute Kroos who netted a powerful low shot from the edge of the box just inside the left post.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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