MADRID, Sept 1 (Reuters) - In-form playmaker Isco struck twice and Cristiano Ronaldo netted his first goal of the campaign to give Luka Modric-inspired Real Madrid a 3-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga on Sunday.
The comfortable victory in an unusual midday kickoff at the Bernabeu gave Carlo Ancelotti's side a joint share of the lead in the standings with a perfect nine points from three games.
It also suggested the Real players have not been distracted by the drawn-out saga over the possible arrival of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur.
Real have until Monday to wrap up the purchase of the Wales international, which could set a transfer record of around 100 million euros ($132 million), according to media reports in Britain and Spain.
After a subdued start at the giant, sun-drenched arena, Karim Benzema dinked a pass through to Isco and the Spain playmaker, who joined from Malaga in the close season, drilled a shot past Bilbao goalkeeper Iago Herrerin.
Ronaldo powered home a header moments before halftime for his 202nd goal in 202 official games for Real and his 11th against Bilbao, putting him on a par with the club's former strikers Raul and Hugo Sanchez.
Bilbao threatened a comeback on a couple of occasions before Isco picked up another assist from Benzema, again whistled by the home crowd after fluffing a number of chances, and the 21-year-old found the net with a sublime first-time strike.
Ibai Gomez made the scoreline slightly more respectable for the visitors, who have now conceded 22 goals in their last five league visits to the Bernabeu, when he clipped the ball past Diego Lopez in the 79th minute after neat work on the right from fellow substitute Oscar de Marcos.
Croat Modric, who started alongside Germany's Sami Khedira in central midfield, had an excellent game and the crowd chanted his name midway through the second half when he snuffed out a Bilbao attack.
Real over level with Villarreal who also have nine points from three matches after their 3-0 success at Osasuna on Saturday.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has rested Xavi and Alexis Sanchez for the Spanish champions' game at Valencia later on Sunday (1900 GMT) but Lionel Messi is back in the squad after missing last weekend's 1-0 win at Malaga with a bruised thigh.
Atletico Madrid visit fellow Champions League participants Real Sociedad at San Sebastian (1700). Barca, Atletico, Bilbao and Real were the only other teams apart from Villarreal to win their opening two games. ($1 = 0.7584 euros) (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by xxxxxxxxx)