Marco Asensio broke Granada’s resolve to earn Real Madrid a 1-0 win in Sunday’s contest at the Santiago Bernabeu and move his side six points clear at the top of LaLiga.
Madrid were eliminated from the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao in midweek and, without top scorer Karim Benzema, were frustrated for large parts against lowly Granada.
But the introduction of Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic lifted Los Blancos and Asensio finally found a way through 16 minutes from time with a sublime strike from long range.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side now having breathing space on second-place Sevilla, who were held 0-0 by Osasuna on Saturday.
Thibaut Courtois kept out Antonio Puertas’ low drive and was the busier of the keepers in the first half until a late flurry saw Asensio and Isco test Luis Maximiano.
It was Madrid who went closest to finding a breakthrough before the interval when Carlos Neva turned Dani Carvajal’s cross against the underside of his own bar.
Granada have twice drawn with Barcelona this term, as well as beating Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, and they continued to frustrate Madrid past the hour mark.
Ancelotti turned to Hazard and Jovic with 65 minutes gone and Madrid did not have to wait long for their pressure to tell, Asensio flashing a shot past Maximiano from 25 yards.
Asensio was denied a second by a fine Maximiano save, but his earlier strike proved enough to earn all three points.
What does it mean? Madrid find a way
Second-place Sevilla’s stalemate at Osasuna provided Madrid a chance to give themselves some breathing space at the summit and they just about took advantage.
Los Blancos got the job done thanks to Asensio and have now won each of their past 14 league meetings with Granada, who remain two places above the relegation zone.
Asensio the hero
Without Benzema, who has scored 14 goals in 17 games against Granada in LaLiga, Madrid needed someone to step up and Asensio did exactly that.
He has now scored four goals from outside the box this season in all competitions, which is more than any other LaLiga player.
Camavinga the fall guy
Eduardo Camavinga was sacrificed at half-time to make way for Federico Valverde and it was a call that made sense from Ancelotti on the basis of the first half.
No Madrid player created more chances than Camavinga’s two during his time on the pitch, but he was caught out of position a couple of times, forcing others to cover in behind.
Madrid return to LaLiga action next Saturday with a trip to Villarreal, while Granada travel to Real Sociedad in a week’s time.
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