MADRID, Feb 12 (AFP): Goals from Brazilian starlet Robinho and Raul Bravo saw Real Madrid bounce back from their midweek Spanish Cup humiliation in Zaragoza to record a 2-0 away success in Bilbao Saturday which keeps their league title dreams alive.
Robinho fired Real ahead in the fifth minute with a deft left-foot finish after French maestro Zinedine Zidane played him through the inside left channel with a perfectly-weighted flicked pass.
Zidane, rested from the starting line-up for the Zaragoza shambles, was at the fulcrum of many of Real's early probing moves and the early goal settled the nine-times European champions, although Bilbao, fighting against the drop -- a fate they have never suffered -- forced a succession of corners.
England defender Jonathan Woodgate, also returning to the starting eleven, looked confident at the back and had time to make some forays into the Bilbao penalty area as the visitors shrugged off their 6- 1 Cup nightmare, although the second leg is still to come.
Facing the prospect of a third straight season without a trophy with the Cup seemingly beyond them and reigning champions Barcelona riding high in the league once again, Real showed a real sense of purpose as they chased their seventh away league win of the season.
And Raul Bravo's last-minute close range finish secured the points which took Real back into second place a point clear of 2004 champions Valencia with 45 points from 23 games.
However, if Valencia can hand Barca a second straight defeat after last week's shock reverse to Atletico Madrid they will leapfrog the meringues once more.
The Catalan club still have a nine-point cushion but Valencia are unbeaten in 11 outings.