Real Madrid kept pace with leaders Atletico Madrid with a solid 4-1 victory at Granada on Thursday night at the Nuevo Estadio de los Carmenes. Luka Modric and Rodrygo tallied first half goals before back-to-back scores from Alvaro Odriozola and Karim Benzema made sure there would be no Granada comeback, as Los Blancos remain just two points behind their city rivals with just two rounds of the 2020/21 LaLiga Santander season remaining.
With his defence decimated by injuries, Zinedine Zidane turned to Castilla youngsters Miguel Gutierrez at left-back and Marvin Park at right-back, while Fede Valverde came in for the rested Toni Kroos in midfield and Brazilians Rodrygo and Vinicius joined Karim Benzema in attack.
Benzema has been Real Madrid’s most consistent player all season and he almost delivered an early goal for his side with a thumping header off a Rodrygo cross, only for Granada goalkeeper Rui Silva to make a big save to deny the Frenchman.
The young Portuguese shot-stopper couldn’t do anything to stop Modric from opening the scoring, though, as the Croatian ran onto a brilliantly scooped pass from Miguel Gutierrez and finished for a 1-0 lead.
Moments after Vinicius spoiled a chance off a counter attack, much to Benzema’s chagrin, Marvin won a ball in midfield leading to a break for Rodrygo, who capped a darting run with a strong finish to hand Real Madrid a 2-0 lead at half time.
A knock sustained by Marvin in the first half resulted in Zidane’s first change of the night, with Odriozola coming on to start the second half. Real Madrid remained on the front foot, with Modric running the show in midfield and setting up Vinicius with a crack at goal, but the Brazilian couldn’t squeeze his shot past Rui Silva.
On the hour mark Zidane made another three substitutions, with Isco, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard on for Fede Valverde, Rodrygo and Vinicius respectively.
But it was Granada who were looking like scoring and a deflected cross was there to be turned into net by Luis Suarez, but the Granada striker couldn’t connect. Suarez would quickly make amends, though, by ripping a shot that forced a block from Thibaut Courtois, with veteran striker Jorge Molina there to clean it up to make it a 2-1 affair with around 20 minutes to go.
Right when Real Madrid were wobbling the most, Modric would rise up and set the table for his side’s third, with a filtered pass into Hazard, who controlled enough to cut back and Odriozola pounced.
Zidane’s men were then gifted a fourth to all but cement the three points with a horrific error from Rui Silva gifting an empty net goal to Benzema for a 4-1 lead.
The three-goal cushion allowed Zidane to give Benzema a few extra minutes of rest, with Mariano on to replace the veteran forward, as Real Madrid saw things out thanks to some top saves from Courtois to nail down another three points to stay in the hunt for a second straight league crown.
1.- Granada: Rui Silva; Foulquier, Duarte, German, Quini; Eteki (Domingos Quina, min. 67), Gonalons, Puertas (Adrian Marin, min. 67), Fede Vico (Soro, min. 54), Machis (Luis Suarez, min. 54); Jorge Molina.
4.- Real Madrid: Courtois; Marvin (Odriozola, min. 46), Militao, Nacho, Miguel; Casemiro, Modric, Valverde (Isco, min. 62); Rodrygo (Asensio, min. 61), Vinicius (Hazard, min. 62), Benzema (Mariano, min. 77).
Goals: 0-1, min. 17: Modric; 0-2, min. 45+1: Rodrygo; 1-2, min. 71: Molina; 1-3, min. 75: Odriozola; 1-4, min. 76: Benzema
Referee: Gil Manzano (Extremadura).
Yellow cards: Militao (Min. 38) for Real Madrid, Jorge Molina (Min. 41) for Granada, Modric (Min. 49) for Real Madrid, Eeteki (Min. 53) for Granada, Nacho (Min. 63) for Real Madrid, Domingos Quina (Min. 72) for Granada
Red cards: None
Stadium: Nuevo Los Carmenes