Casemiro and Karim Benzema struck as Real Madrid beat Granada 2-0 to claim their sixth consecutive victory in all competitions and keep pace with LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid.
Zinedine Zidane’s men have lifted the gloom that hung over the club during a torrid run of results in November and they ensured their fans a merry Christmas with a hard-fought win over a dangerous Granada side.
Madrid survived a number of early scares as Granada attempted to extend their three-game unbeaten LaLiga streak but improved dramatically after half-time, when Casemiro broke the deadlock with a fine header – the first time he has scored in three successive home games in Spain’s top flight.
Karim Benzema added further gloss in stoppage time, ensuring Madrid moved level on points with rivals Atleti, but Diego Simeone’s men have two games in hand.
Antonio Puertas squandered a chance to give Granada the lead in the opening minute, firing high and wide following Raphael Varane’s error
Karim Benzema hit the side netting at the other end, but Thibaut Courtois’ fumble almost gifted Kennedy an easy finish, only for the winger to hesitate and hit tamely into the goalkeeper’s arms.
A difficult first half for the champions was capped off in the 35th minute – Rodrygo Goes having to be taken off on a stretcher after pulling up through injury.
Madrid laid siege to the Granada goal early in the second half, Marco Asensio hitting the post before Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde drew good saves from Rui Silva.
Yet the breakthrough came 12 minutes into the half when Asensio delivered a floated cross which Casemiro powered into the bottom corner of Silva’s net.
Lucas Vasquez curled a 25-yard shot narrowly over the crossbar before Madrid endured some late Granada pressure, but Benzema capped off the result in the last minute when he broke down the right, cut onto his left foot, and dragged a 20-yard shot into the far corner.