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REAL MADRID 5-1 ATHLETIC BILBAO | KARANKA

"Benzema's movement is great. When he scores, he's perfect"

"Cristiano does not have to prove anything to us," added Karanka. "We know how vital he is to the team. He didn't score, but he was generous with his passing and that has not gone unnoticed."

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"Benzema's movement is great. When he scores, he's perfect"

Aitor Karanka praised the performance of Karim Benzema after Real Madrid brushed Athletic Bilbao aside with a comfortable 5-1 victory.

"He's not your everyday player," said the Madrid assistant coach.

"He helped our movement up front and provided a lot of passes. And when he scores goals, he's perfect. He links up very well with his team-mates, he creates space and he offers support. Today he got to work and had his shooting boots on."

Overall, Karanka was pleased with Madrid's performance.

"The team maintained its intensity right until the end, because they got back to 3-1 and could have made it 3-2. At half-time we said if they had more chances then we were in danger of losing our lead, but in the second half we were much stronger in defence, and then game the goals. You can't afford slip ups in this league and we have to keep going."

Karanka explained that Michael Essien could not play because he had a niggling injury but praised the player for "playing where he was asked to and getting the job done" at left-back or in central midfield.

Luka Modric started the game ahead of Essien and also had a great game, as Karanka emphasised:

"We know where he can play and that he can adapt to the needs of the team. He's got a lot of quality but he's going to improve even more, and he provided a great pass for Karim's first goal [which was deflected in by Jon Aurtenetxe].

Karanka added that it was vital to keep the pressure on Barcelona, who are still eight points ahead of 'Los Blancos'.

"We have to accept the lead we had over us and only a win would have done tonight. We always seem to play after them and so we have to win."

Finally, Karanka defended Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not have one of his best performances in a Madrid shirt.

"He does not have to prove anything to us. We know how vital he is to the team. He didn't score, but he was generous with his passing and that has not gone unnoticed."

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