Soccer-Benzema scores on farewell but Real held at home by Bilbao

Soccer Football - LaLiga - Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - June 4, 2023 Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid's Karim Benzema netted a penalty in his final LaLiga game at the Bernabeu but was unable to inspire them to victory as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Earlier on Sunday, Real announced that Ballon d'Or winner Benzema will leave the club as a free agent in the close season after 14 trophy-laden years, with the French striker linked with a move to Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad.

After Thibaut Courtois saved a Mikel Vesga penalty early in the first half, Bilbao took the lead in the 49th minute through Oihan Sancet, who stabbed a tame effort at the goalkeeper before rifling in the rebound for his 10th league goal of the season.

Real levelled in the 72nd minute after Eder Militao took an elbow to the face from Yuri Berchiche in Bilbao's penalty area, with Benzema stepping up to calmly slot home the spot-kick before receiving a standing ovation from the fans.

Real held onto second place despite the draw, as 10-man Atletico Madrid were held 2-2 at Villarreal following Jorge Pascual's 92nd-minute equaliser. Diego Simeone's side finished the season with 77 points, one behind local rivals Real.

Osasuna secured a spot in the Europa Conference League, beating Girona 2-1 to finish seventh, two points above Bilbao.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Nashik, India; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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