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Soccer-Real Madrid frustrated by Athletic and fall behind Barca

MADRID, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Real Madrid slipped two points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona after they could only draw 0-0 at home to Athletic Bilbao in their final game of the year.

Real’s top scorer Karim Benzema had a shot cleared off the line in a lively first half from both sides while Toni Kroos, plus substitutes Nacho Fernandez and Luka Jovic all hit the woodwork on a frustrating evening at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Athletic, who beat champions Barca earlier this season, gave an astute performance in defence and also gave their hosts a few scares, with Kenan Kodro having a goal ruled out for offside and Inaki Williams forcing Thibaut Courtois to make a diving save.

It was Real’s third draw in a row after 1-1 and 0-0 stalemates away to Valencia and Barca. They are second in the standings on 37 points after 18 games, two behind Barca who beat Alaves 4-1 on Saturday. Athletic are seventh with 28. (Reporting by Richard Martin Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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