Real Madrid moved seven points clear at the summit of LaLiga as Karim Benzema's solitary goal sealed a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.
Benzema, who also scored in the 2-1 win over Sevilla at the weekend, struck in the 40th minute with his 12th league goal of the campaign – three more than anyone else in LaLiga.
Athletic created enough chances to claim at least a point at the Santiago Bernabeu, yet they were unable to find a way past Thibaut Courtois.
A fifth league win in a row lifted Carlo Ancelotti's side well clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, although Diego Simeone's men have a game in hand.
35 - Karim Benzema has scored 35 goals in 46 games for @realmadriden in 2021 across all competitions, equalling his best goalscoring tally in a single calendar year for Los Blancos (35 goals in 50 games in 2019). Insatiable. pic.twitter.com/x1XQD5OcpG OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 1, 2021
Unai Simon twice denied Benzema from close range inside the opening 15 minutes as Madrid started brightly.
Athletic grew into the game, though, and twice went close before the half-hour mark, Inaki Williams seeing an effort deflected narrowly wide and an unmarked Raul Garcia heading straight at Courtois.
Madrid went ahead five minutes before the interval, Benzema sliding into an empty net from Luka Modric's mishit shot after Simon had thwarted Marco Asensio.
Toni Kroos whipped wide after a fine team move shortly after the restart, before Lucas Vazquez denied Dani Garcia a near-certain goal at the other end with a superb block.
Unai Nunez inexplicably headed wide from an inswinging free-kick with 20 minutes remaining, while Courtois raced off his line to deny Oihan Sancet as Athletic ultimately fell short of finding the leveller they deserved.
What does it mean? Madrid pushed all the way
Athletic's tally of 18 shots is evidence that Madrid were far from their best, but Ancelotti's men did just enough to seal maximum points against their spirited opponents.
The result means Los Blancos are now unbeaten in their last 13 LaLiga games against Athletic – their best such run against them in the top flight.
The superb Benzema has now scored 35 goals in 46 games for Madrid across all competitions in 2021, equalling his best goalscoring tally in a single calendar year for Los Blancos (35 goals in 50 games in 2019).
He sealed all three points against Sevilla on Sunday with a sublime strike, but Vinicius Junior had no such luck in front of goal here. The Brazil international made a game-high five key passes, but failed to have a single shot as Madrid largely toiled in attack.
Madrid travel to third-placed Real Sociedad on Saturday, while Athletic are next in action on Monday when they visit Getafe.