Real Madrid laboured to a 1-0 win over Granada on Sunday night, tightening their grip on top spot in La Liga.
Despite having to do so with depleted options, Carlo Ancelotti's men took advantage of Sevilla's 0-0 draw with Osasuna on Saturday night - Julen Lopetegui's side's third stalemate on the bounce - to go six points clear at the La Liga summit.
Missing the attacking prowess of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr (who, between them, have notched 29 league goals so far this season), however, the hosts thoroughly struggled to pierce through a resolute Granada, who at the same time were visibly not at the Santiago Bernabeu to play for a point.
The visitors announced their intentions very quickly, almost taking the lead in the opening five minutes with the first half's clearest opportunity. Were it not for the quick reactions of Thibaut Courtois at his near post, Antonio Puerta's low drive would have capped off a blistering counter attack to give Robert Moreno's side an unlikely early lead.
Los Blancos subsequently found security in the game but simply failed to find any offensive cohesion before the break. Even so, the hosts did provide a threat to Luis Maximiano's goal and were mightily close to taking an undeserved lead into the interval.
Marco Asensio forced the visiting goalkeeper into a couple of smart stops, Toni Kroos worried his opposition with a deliciously whipped effort that sailed just over the crossbar, Raul Torrente was inches away from scoring an own goal when he deflected a Dani Carvajal cross onto the horizontal, all before Isco fired a thundering volley straight down the goalkeeper's throat.
Ancelotti's side couldn't quite find a way through, but evidently went up a gear or two following the break. Despite Asensio, Luka Modric and substitute Luka Jovic being given opportunities in the box, however, Real continued to struggle in their quest for a decisive moment.
It would take until the 74th minute for Real Madrid to eventually break the deadlock, and it would take a special strike to achieve it. Picking up the ball after a set-piece situation, Asensio set himself from range and hit a rasping effort that flew into the bottom corner without the impressive Maximiano even moving a muscle.
The visitors came out of their shell in an attempt to salvage a result in the remaining minutes, although Ancelotti's side were comfortable enough in shutting up shop and seeing out their first victory in three outings across all competitions.
Real Madrid player ratings
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Thibaut Courtois (GK) - 7/10 - Excellent stop to keep the score at 0-0 early on and remained composed throughout.
Dani Carvajal (RB) - 7/10 - Defensively sound and really threatened with his darts in behind, managing to deliver real quality at times.
Eder Militao (CB) - 6/10 - Another assertive performance at the heart of defence, which has become very typical of the Brazilian this campaign.
David Alaba (CB) - 6/10 - Quick on the cover and always willing to surge through the lines.
Marcelo (LB) - 6/10 - Displayed some moments of real flair on the front foot but, in maintaining such a high position, he sometimes left acres of space that Granada should have capitalised on.
Eduardo Camavinga (DM) - 7/10 - Had a shaky moment in the opening seconds but was largely solid as Casemiro's anchoring deputy, while also producing some lovely creative play when adopting a more box-to-box attitude, linking things brilliantly to make two key passes. Sacrificed for Valverde's dynamism at the break.
Luka Modric (CM) - 6/10 - Silky in possession and terrier-like in his harrying of opponents but, in the end, didn't manage to impose his class on the game all that much.
Toni Kroos (CM) - 6/10 - Pinged some raking balls around the pitch in typical quarter-back fashion although, like Modric, wasn't too impactful.
Marco Asensio (RW) - 8/10 - A constant danger, working Maximiano with a few very dangerous efforts throughout and finally finding the back of the net with a brilliant strike late on.
Isco (CF) - 6/10 - Decent movement, mostly bustlingly creative and a sporadic goal threat; Isco generally fared pretty well in an unfamiliar role, but he just isn't going to replace Benzema's influence, is he?
Rodrygo (LW) - 5/10 - Enjoyed some decent interplay with colleagues at times, although failed to really make his presence felt and was hooked off having been utterly absent in the second period.
Federico Valverde (CM) - 7/10 - Provided an immediate injection of thrust and energy after the interval, taking Los Blancos up a gear or two with his tenacious running.
Eden Hazard (LW) - 6/10 - Added that bit of clinical quality to Real Madrid's game in the final third.
Luka Jovic (ST) - 6/10 - Went close seconds after being introduced to the field of play and also produced an important defensive header in stoppage time.
Nacho Fernandez (CB) - N/A
Dani Ceballos (CM) - N/A