Madrid put five goals past Granada



La Liga leaders Real Madrid equalled Barcelona’s Spanish record of 39 consecutive matches unbeaten as they swatted aside a woeful Granada.

Zinedine Zidane’s side were 4-0 up after 32 minutes, with Isco slotting in their first from Karim Benzema’s pass.

Benzema converted after Guillermo Ochoa spilled a Luka Modric shot, before Cristiano Ronaldo headed a third.

Isco tapped in a Modric cross, and midfielder Casemiro touched home a fifth from James Rodriguez’s free-kick.

Who will stop Real Madrid this season? Zidane’s side have not lost a competitive fixture since Wolfsburg defeated them in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final last April.

Victory here was never in doubt, as a rapid start against relegation-threatened opponents took them six points clear at the top of La Liga.

They had a little bit of luck along the way. Benzema’s goal, Real’s second, should have been ruled out, as the France forward was clearly offside as he converted a loose ball pushed into his path.

But had it not been for Granada’s Mexico international keeper Ochoa, who made fine second-half saves from Dani Carvajal and Marcelo, the margin of victory would have been even bigger.

Real Madrid’s number seven had a year to remember in 2016 – scoring the winning penalty in the Champions League final, helping Portugal to victory at Euro 2016, picking up the Club World Cup and securing his fourth Ballon D’Or.

There was a mood of celebration at the Bernabeu before kick-off, as Ronaldo was greeted with a mosaic of golden cards from the stands, and by a host of Real Madrid legends on the pitch – including his namesake, the former Brazil striker Ronaldo, and Luis Figo.

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It was fitting that he should get a goal to mark the occasion, although this was a day for Real’s other forwards to shine.

Isco, in particular, might well have had a hat-trick – justifying his selection after he was surprisingly picked ahead of Rodriguez, who had to settle for being a substitute.

Sadly, the Real forward’s day came to an early end. Having been caught by a wild thigh-high challenge from Granada’s Barcelona loanee Sergi Samper shortly before the interval, Isco struggled on for a while, but had to come off five minutes into the second half.

Real Madrid’s afternoon was made significantly easier by the fact that their opponents were utterly hopeless.

Granada coach Lucas Alcaraz has patched together a squad made up largely of loan signings – borrowing a host of Premier League fringe players such as defender Franck Tabanou from Swansea, as well as midfielders Uche Agbo from Watford, Andreas Pereira from Manchester United, and Jeremie Boga from Chelsea.

Alcaraz named nine loanees in his starting line-up and got a performance that could politely be described as disjointed.

Their defending, at times, was abysmal, with Ronaldo allowed a free header for his goal, and Agbo failing to track the run of Casemiro as he converted Rodriguez’s free-kick.

Frustration boiled over for the visitors at times, notably when Samper clattered Isco in the first half, and Tabanou had two attempts at hacking down Carvajal in the second, also picking up a yellow card.

Unless they find a better way to channel that aggression, Granada may well be heading for the drop.


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