Madrid go top with Granada win

Real Madrid went top of La Liga with a win over Granada thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

With Barcelona and Atletico Madrid not playing until Sunday, Carlo Ancelotti’s side had the chance to go top for the first time since they won the title in 2012, under Jose Mourinho.

Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema ensured they did just that, establishing a two-point advantage.

Madrid spent the majority of the first-half on the front foot but with Granada defending deep, were unable to force a clear opening.

Ronaldo did his best to create something from nothing, a bicycle kick saved by Roberto moments before the half-time whistle.

The closest Madrid came to an opening goal in the early going was when Manuel Iturra headed against his crossbar as he cleared a free-kick.

Gareth Bale needed treatment after he was pole-axed by Jeison Murillo as he attempted to latch on to a loose ball. Murillo was shown a yellow card for the foul while Bale caught his breath.

Karim Benzema did have the ball in the back of the net but was rightly called offside. The France striker was again flagged after testing Roberto, with the veteran stopping well despite the offside call.

Ronaldo paraded the Ballon d’Or before kick-off against Granada but Real Madrid had little to celebrate at the break.

Jese replaced Bale at half-time but little changed immediately, Benzema again offside with a header that hit the bar.

The swap saw Madrid shift formation, Ronaldo supporting Benzema, Angel Di Maria going to the left wing and Jese on the right.

Madrid camped even deeper in the Granada half in the early stages of the second 45 minutes, the visitors practically defending the six yard line as Modric saw a scrambled effort touched over.

Ronaldo eventually opened the scoring when his quick feet engineered a gap in the penalty area and he fired past Roberto.

Granada were unhappy as they had a player down injured but the goal came from a Granada free-kick taken quickly.

Bookings for both sides flowed after Madrid went in front as Granada came out of their shell a little and started to push for an equaliser.

But they were wary of committing too many men forward given Madrid’s danger on the counter-attack.

Ronaldo’s deflected free-kick hit the bar and minutes later Benzema converted good work from Marcelo to double the lead.

Benzema was withdrawn shortly after Ancelotti gave Isco a run-out.

Di Maria went close to a third in the final 10 minutes, a volley that worried Roberto his last action before being withdrawn.

A polite reception accompanied the Argentine off the pitch, suggesting the Santiago Bernabeu crowd has forgiven the crotch-grabbing furore earlier this month.

Jese stung Roberto’s hands with a powerful late drive but two goals proved enough for Madrid to return to the summit.

Madrid 2-0 Granada

Scorer: Ronaldo 56, Benzema 74 (RM)

Madrid: Diego Lopez; Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Xabi Alonso, Modric; Di Maria (Illarramendi 83), Bale (Jese 46), Benzema (Isco 78), Ronaldo

Granada: Roberto; Nyom, Mainz, Murillo (Coeff 81), Angulo; Fatau, Iturra, Recio (Pereira 70); Piti (Buonanotte 81), El-Arabi, Brahimi