Real one win away from La Liga crown

Afp, Madrid

15 July, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Real one win away from La Liga crown

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema, second left, celebrates after scoring a goal against Granada during their Spanish League match at Nuevo Los Carmenes Stadium in Granada on Monday. Real Madrid won 2-1. — AFP Photo

Real Madrid need one victory to secure La Liga after they held off a second-half comeback from Granada on Monday to win 2-1 and move four points clear of Barcelona.

With two games left, Madrid will be crowned champions if they beat Villarreal at home on Thursday regardless of how Barca fare at the Camp Nou against Osasuna.

But they were made to sweat by a Granada team that are gunning for Europe and have been arguably the division's surprise of the season after being promoted from second tier last year. Ferland Mendy and Karim Benzema looked to have set Madrid on course for a comfortable win at Los Carmenes but Granada were transformed after the break and Darwin Machis's 50th-minute strike gave them hope. An increasingly nervous Madrid were clinging on by the end and needed Sergio Ramos to clear one shot off the line as Zinedine Zidane's side dug in for a ninth consecutive victory.

"Our vision when we start every season is to win the league," said Zidane. "There are two games left. We are close but we're not there yet." When the final whistle blew, Zidane roared with relief and Ramos clenched his fists after coming through their toughest test since the restart.

If Madrid slip up against Villarreal, they will still have a second chance on Sunday when they finish at Leganes while Barcelona visit Alaves.

Machis's goal was the first Madrid have conceded in six matches but few would have seen it coming after the first half.

Madrid scored twice in six minutes, with both goals coming from breaks down their left. Mendy had space in front of him and kept going, accelerating between Victor Diaz and Dimitri Foulquier before firing high and into the roof of the net from an acute angle.

The second goal came down the same side, Isco's backheel allowing Luka Modric to switch left to Benzema, who this time cut inside Diaz and shot into the far corner.

Madrid cruised through the rest of the half, pushing the ball around at will, but comfort perhaps created complacency and Granada improved after the break.

Machis pulled a goal back, striking through the legs of Courtois after Casemiro was dispossessed in midfield and Madrid were rattled as Granada began to dictate play.

A scramble in Madrid's six-yard box saw several players hacking at the ball in panic and Courtois was twice required to make smart saves late on.

The closest Granada came was when the ball fell to Ramon Azeez at the back post and he fired towards the near post with Courtois stranded but Ramos was on the line to clear.

 


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