BARCELONA (Reuters) - Real Madrid equalled a Spanish record of 39 games unbeaten in all competitions by crushing struggling Granada 5-0 on Saturday to go six points clear at the top of La Liga.
Spain midfielder Isco set Real on their way to an easy victory by latching on to a pass from Karim Benzema and squeezing the ball underneath Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in the 12th minute.
Benzema tapped in the second goal in the 20th minute after Ochoa failed to hold a shot from the lively Luka Modric and top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo struck his 11th league goal of the season by nodding in a cross from Marcelo.
Isco turned in a low cross from Modric to stretch Real’s lead in the 31st minute and defensive midfielder Casemiro scored his first goal of the season by stabbing in a free kick from James Rodriguez in the 58th.
Although Granada are 19th in the table and have won just one game, the Andalusians made life hard for champions Barcelona back in October, losing only 1-0 by deploying a five-man defence and sitting deep.
Their efforts to contain Real were far less successful and the La Liga leaders’ dominance was underlined by the fact that they conceded only one shot on target.
“It’s much easier when you start a game by scoring goals early on like we did today. Granada like to sit back so it was important to score when we did,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane said.
“The fact they barely had a shot shows how seriously we took the game. You normally play worse in the second half after scoring three or four goals in the first but that didn’t happen today, we respected our opponents.”
Real top the standings on 40 points from 16 games, although Barcelona, who have also played 16, can close the gap when they visit Villarreal on Sunday.
Also on Saturday, Antoine Griezmann scored his first league goal in more than three months as Atletico Madrid won 2-0 at Eibar to provisionally go fourth in the standings.
The France international ended his La Liga goal drought by gliding forward to the edge of the area and playing a pass with compatriot Kevin Gameiro before blasting into the net in the 74th minute.
Saul Niguez had broken the deadlock on a freezing cold pitch in the 54th minute by glancing in a Filipe Luis cross following a short corner routine.
Atletico withstood plenty of pressure from the home side after netting the first goal and sealed the points with Griezmann’s first league strike since he scored against Valencia on Oct. 2.
“It was a difficult game in a difficult ground, we gave everything. We struggled to get into the game at first but we were much better in the second half,” Griezmann said.
“We showed what people expect of Atleti, we were strong at the back and defended with 11 men and took advantage of the few chances we created.”
Atletico go fourth on 31 points although Real Sociedad, on 29, have the chance to leapfrog Diego Simeone’s side when they host third-placed Sevilla later on Saturday.
Editing by Ed Osmond and Clare Fallon