benzema athletic bilbao
Karim Benzema had a brace for Real Madrid in their road win over Athletic Bilbao. Getty

Karim Benzema scored twice as injury-plagued Real Madrid edged beleagured Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday at San Mames Stadium, 2-1. The victory lifts Real Madrid into first place in La Liga after Barcelona was dropped by undefeated Celta Vigo earlier in the evening.

Benzema got the scoring started in the 19th minute with a right-footed shot from the center of the box, taking advantage of an errant pass by Mikel San Jose. But 23-year-old forward Sabin would even the match in the 67th minute with a gorgeous header off an assist from Markel Susaeta.

It didn't take long for Benzema to return the favor. The Frenchman put the game-winner in the back of the net off a fine assist from Isco just three minutes after Sabin's equalizer.

It was a solid victory for Rafael Benitez's side, who were without Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez. Real Madrid were the aggressors from the start of the match, notching 22 shots with six on target, while Athletic Bilbao had 11 shots and five on goal.

After four matches, Athletic Bilbao have one win and three losses this season. Up next for Los Leones is a road match against Real Sociedad on Sunday, while Real Madrid host Malaga on Saturday.