Karim Benzema has scored a first-half winner as Real Madrid edged Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to increase their lead in the Spanish league.
Benzema netted his league-leading 12th goal in the 40th minute to give Madrid a seventh consecutive victory in all competitions, extending their unbeaten streak to 10 matches.
"We played well in the first half but they improved in the second and it was tough in the final 15 minutes," Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said.
Madrid opened a seven-point lead over both Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad.
Atletico have a game in hand on thier city rivals.
Benzema found the net from close range after Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon partially saved a shot by Marco Asensio.
It was Benzema's eighth goal in his last six matches with club and country.
Athletic, sitting in eighth place with 20 points from 15 matches, are winless in straight league matches.
"We have been playing well but can't come up with the victories," Athletic midfielder Dani Garcia said. "We have to keep working hard to change this dynamic."
Athletic next visit Getafe, while Madrid play at Sociedad.
First-division clubs Sociedad, Mallorca, Espanyol, Sevilla and Real Betis all won their Copa del Rey matches against lower-division clubs to advance to the next round.
Sevilla struggled the most, needing a goal by Lucas Ocampos in the second half of extra time to defeat fourth-division club Cordoba 1-0 in a match between southern Spanish clubs.
Australian Associated Press
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