Christiano Ronaldo got on the scoresheet after being presented with his fourth Ballon d’Or at the Santiago Bernabeu, as Real Madrid ran out 5-0 winners over LaLiga strugglers Granada.
Isco hit a first-half brace and the other goals came from familiar and unfamiliar sources respectively, as Karim Benzema and Casemiro got in on the act.
The victory means Madrid are now 39 games unbeaten, pulling level with Barcelona’s all-time Spanish record – a streak they halted themselves with a 2-1 Clasico win at Camp Nou last April.
Zinedine Zidane’s side sit six points clear of Barca at the top of LaLiga and will break new ground if they avoid defeat at Sevilla on Thursday, in a Copa del Rey tie where they hold a 3-0 aggregate advantage.
Ronaldo was honoured by a pre-match ceremony featuring former Ballon d’Or winners and ex-Madrid stars Raymond Kopa, Luis Figo, Michael Owen, Zidane and former Brazil striker Ronaldo, but it was the other members of the hosts’ front three who combined for the 12th-minute opener.
Granada coughed up possession needlessly in midfield and Benzema fed a pass for Isco to drill a finish underneath goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Mexico international Ochoa was forced to pluck the ball from the net again eight minutes later as he could only parry Luka Modric’s strike as far as Benzema, leaving the striker with a tap-in despite being in an offside position.
The goal the Bernabeu craved arrived thanks largely to Marcelo twisting and turning Granada right-back Tito to distraction. From the Brazilian’s resulting cross, Ronaldo rose to head his 17th of the season.
Madrid’s relentless pressure on Granada inside their own half forced a fourth, with Isco applying the finish to a low Modric cross in the 31st minute and a sprawling Ochoa tipped behind to deny the Spain playmaker his hat-trick before the interval.
A clearer opportunity fell Isco’s way early in the second period but he headed into the turf and wide, while James Rodriguez’s introduction at the interval in place of Toni Kroos lent extra verve to the Madrid midfield that Granada were ill-equipped to deal with.
Befuddled by the array of attacking talents before them, the visitors neglected to mark Casemiro at James’ 58th-minute free-kick and the holding midfielder duly scrambled home at the back post.
The remaining action took on a testimonial feel, save for Granada left-back Franck Tabanou scything through Dani Carvajal and being fortunate to escape with a booking.
Ochoa parried to deny Ronaldo a late second and his team-mates must now clear their heads for a potentially unseemly scrap with basement boys Osasuna next time out, while Madrid will watch Barca’s Sunday trip to Villarreal with interest.
Culled from fourfourtwo.com