Real Madrid kept alive their LaLiga title hopes with an emphatic 4-1 win over Granada at Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes on Thursday.
The result moved Zinedine Zidane’s side above Barcelona into second, two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with just two games remaining in the season.
Luka Modric got them on their way early on with his fourth league goal of the campaign – the first time he has achieved that since 2011-12 with Tottenham in the Premier League – before Rodrygo doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Jorge Molina threatened to set up a dramatic finale with a goal 19 minutes from time, but Los Blancos comfortably sealed an 18th win in their last 19 games against Granada thanks to goals from Alvaro Odriozola and Karim Benzema.
2 – Real Madrid are the second team with different players born in 2000 or later to assist a goal in the same LaLiga game (Marvin Park and Miguel Gutiérrez ), after Barcelona against Real Valladolid in December 2020 (Pedri González and Sergiño Dest ). Generation. pic.twitter.com/BS3x19hobK
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 13, 2021
Madrid started on the front foot and almost went ahead after 14 minutes, Benzema’s header forcing a smart stop from Rui Silva.
Zidane’s men opened the scoring three minutes later, though, when Modric latched onto Miguel Gutierrez’s sumptuous flicked ball over the top and rolled through Silva’s legs from a tight angle.
The visitors’ dominance was rewarded again in first-half stoppage time when Rodrygo powered into the penalty area down the right-hand side and fired across Silva for his first LaLiga goal of a frustrating campaign.
Granada reduced the deficit inside the final 20 minutes, Molina stroking into an empty net after Thibaut Courtois had parried Luis Suarez’s strike into his path.
Substitute Odriozola settled any Madrid nerves, though, powering home after Eden Hazard’s cross had fallen kindly to him in the 75th minute.
Benzema added gloss to the scoreline a minute later, expertly steering into an unguarded net from 35 yards after Silva’s slapstick attempt to cut out Casemiro’s long ball over the top.
What does it mean? Madrid lurking with intent behind Atleti
The title is still very much in Atleti’s hands, but the holders have put themselves in the perfect position to pounce should Diego Simeone’s side buckle under the pressure in either of their remaining two games.
Maximum points was never in doubt against a limited Granada outfit as Madrid made it 16 games unbeaten in LaLiga, matching their best run in a single league campaign under Zidane.
Gutierrez enjoys sparkling full debut
Left-back Gutierrez enjoyed a fine maiden start for Madrid. His wonderful assist for Modric’s goal meant he became the second youngest Madrid player (19 years and 290 days) to lay on a goal on his first LaLiga start in the past decade, after Brahim Diaz (19 years and 240 days).
Silva’s moment of madness
Quite what Silva hoped to achieve by racing out of his area to meet Casemiro’s long ball is a mystery. His dismal attempt to deal with it resulted in a goal for Benzema and left him with a face as red as his side’s kit.
Key Opta Facts:
– Real Madrid finished as LaLiga champions just once while they weren’t leading the table after 36 games played in the competition; it was in 2002-03 campaign being one point behind Real Sociedad.
– Los Blancos’ starting XI against Granada are the youngest of their season in all competitions (26y 18d). The last time Real Madrid lined up a younger team was against Osasuna in LaLiga in September 2019 (25y 262d).
– Real Madrid are the second team with two of their players born in the 2000s providing an assist in the same LaLiga season (Marvin Park and Miguel Gutierrez) after FC Barcelona against Real Valladolid in December 2020 (Pedri and Sergiño Dest).
– Benzema has scored in 11 of his last 12 meetings with Real Madrid against Granada in LaLiga (12 goals). In total, the French striker has scored 14 goals against them in the competition, his favourite opponent.
Both sides play their penultimate LaLiga games of the season on Sunday, with Madrid travelling to Athletic Bilbao and Granada visiting Deportivo Alaves.
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