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Real batters Bilbao as Bale waits

Francisco “Isco” Alarcon scored twice and Cristiano Ronaldo added another goal yesterday to give Real Madrid a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao with the club’s drawn-out negotiations to sign Gareth Bale approaching the close of the summer transfer window.

Real has until today evening to close the deal for Bale with Tottenham Hotspur. Media reports place Real’s offer in the range of the record 80-million pound (US$93.9-million) fee paid to Manchester United for Ronaldo in 2009.

After not scoring in Real’s first two wins to start the Spanish league season, Ronaldo headed in the second goal in first-half injury time to add to Isco’s 26th-minute opener from Karim Benzema’s pass.

Benzema assisted Isco again in the 73rd for his third goal in as many games since joining from Malaga this offseason.

“Things are going well considering we have just started the season, three for three so far,” said the 21-year-old Isco. “We are getting better game by game. That’s our goal.”

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti started Diego Lopez instead of Iker Casillas for the third straight match, but the goalkeeper could do nothing to stop substitute Ibai Gomez from getting Bilbao’s consolation goal in the 79th.

Barcelona visits Valencia later, while Atletico Madrid is at Real Sociedad, Sevilla hosts Malaga, and Espanyol plays Real Betis.

Real is level with promoted Villarreal which also has nine points from three matches after its 3-0 success at Osasuna on Saturday.

Before the match started, Real dismantled a stage it had set up inside the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium last weekend supposedly for Bale’s presentation. It is expected to go back up soon with the market set to close and Tottenham having spent 100 million euros (US$133 million) this summer and with the chance to make most of that back by selling its star player.

Isco poked his first goal under goalkeeper Iago Herrerin after Benzema set him up with a scooped pass made easier by Bilbao’s Andoni Iraola who failed to move forward with the rest of the defensive line, leaving Isco onside to take the ball alone in the area.

Ronaldo extended the hosts’ lead by running free to head Angel Di Maria’s dipping free kick into the corner of the net.

Isco fired in Real’s third after controlling Benzema’s short cross with one touch and scored to ensure Bilbao would suffer its first loss of the season following two victories.




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