Real Madrid beat Granada in La Liga on Monday night to push their advantage over Barcelona in the table back to four points following the Catalans’ win against Real Valladolid on Saturday.
Los Blancos prevailed in a 2-1 scoreline – an impressive and ruthless ninth consecutive win since the season restarted in June – and are now within touching distance of the league trophy, with only two rounds of fixtures left to come between now and next Sunday.
Fresh from an assist in his last outing against Alaves, Ferland Mendy opened the scoring just 10 minutes into the contest at Los Carmenes, his first goal since joining Real last summer.
The French full-back drove into the penalty area at speed at rifled a fierce left-footed shot high into the roof of the net from a narrow angle.
Fellow countryman Benzema made it two not long after. The 32-year-old is thriving as the spearhead of Real’s attack and it was his 19th La Liga goal of the season, and 24th in all competitions.
Darwin Machis pulled one back for Granada shortly after half time, while late pressure made for a nervous end to the game for Real, who had captain Sergio Ramos to thank for clearing what would have been a Granada equaliser off the line in the final moments.
What it Means - One More Win for the Title
The result in Granada means Real now need just two more points from their final two games to seal a first La Liga title since 2016/17, which means victory at the Bernabeu against Villarreal, who can finish no higher than fifth and have little left to play for, on Thursday evening would do it.
Barcelona’s recent dominance of domestic Spanish football will make it just Real’s third since 2008.
What Zidane Said
Coach Zinedine Zidane, who delivered Real’s last La Liga title during his first spell in charge, was pleased with how his players stood firm when things got tough in the second half.
“We produced a very good first-half performance, in which our possession was impressive and we scored two really fine goals. Our second-half display wasn't as good and we had to dig in a bit because we were up against a great side,” the boss said, via RealMadrid.com.
“If you want to achieve big things you have to suffer and what I take away with me is how the players dug in and showed we could hold out as a team.”
By his own admission, Eden Hazard’s first season at Real following last summer’s €100m move from Chelsea hasn’t been a good one. The Belgian has suffered a number of injury problems and has only played eight minutes in Real’s four La Liga games so far this month.
Hazard was an unused substitute against Granada and Zidane hopes he could return to full fitness in time to feature against Villarreal in a few days.
“It's a team thing and the player must be in really good shape in order to play. There are two games to go and I hope he'll be at 100% by Thursday to help the team because that's what he wants. He's getting stronger,” Zidane explained.
Nothing to Say About Bale
Gareth Bale was also an unused substitute, making it a fifth successive game in which he hasn’t managed to get off the bench. The Welshman has been an unused sub in nine of Real’s last 11 La Liga games stretching back to the start of March and has only started once in that time.
Having been seen pretending to sleep during the Alaves game at the weekend, pushing his face mask up to also cover his eyes, Bale was again joking around on the bench while his teammates were on the pitch beating Granada. This tie, the 30-year-old picked up a roll of medical tape and pretended to be looking through a pair of binoculars.
Zidane wasn’t drawn on it, commenting: “We're all here. There are two games left and we're all going to think about the goal of winning the league. I have nothing more to say.”