Real Madrid scored four goals in the first half as they beat strugglers Granada 4-0 at Los Carmenes on Saturday to keep their title challenge on track.
- Granada 0 Real Madrid 4
- James scores early brace
- Morata also on target twice
- Danilo denied by woodwork
- Real level with Barca at summit
Zinedine Zidane's side needed a response after seeing title rivals Barcelona win their match a few hours earlier, and they quickly delivered with two goals inside the opening 11 minutes.
A further two goals before half-time put the result beyond doubt, with Los Blancos more restrained in the second half as El Grana kept them at bay – the three points taking them level with Barca at the top of the La Liga standings.
It took Real just three minutes to breach the hapless Nazaries defence, as Alvaro Morata played in Lucas Vazquez on the right and he squared the ball for James to turn home from point-blank range.
The visitors were firmly in the driving seat on 11 minutes when James struck again. Vazquez's overhit cross from the right was picked up on the left by Fabio Coentrao, who sent the ball back in for the Colombian to steer a free header past Guillermo Ochoa.
El Grana head coach Tony Adams made a tactical change after 16 minutes in a bid to limit the damage, but their defence was torn to shreds once on the half-hour mark later when Danilo was played into space on the right and he cut the ball back for Morata to smash a shot in off the crossbar from 12 yards out.
A fourth goal for Los Blancos on 35 minutes threatened a landslide, as Morata notched up his second of the match with a fine finish. Marco Asensio carried the ball a long way from a counter before playing the Spaniard in on the left, and he held off Martin Hongla before cutting onto his right foot to fire into the right corner of the left.
The capital club could have been further ahead at the break, but Vazquez clipped the top of the crossbar with a left-footed shot from outside the area on 42 minutes after cutting inside from the right, while Casemiro blazed over from just six yards out soon afterwards when Mateo Kovacic's initial effort deflected into his path.
Real took their foot off the gas after the break, although they almost found a fifth goal in the 61st minute when Danilo struck the ouside of the right post with a side-footed effort after a cross from the left was cleared into his path.
The Andalusians had offered nothing in attack until then, but they were presented with a chance on 62 minutes when Adrian Ramos forced a save out of Kiko Casilla with his shot from outside the box, before Sergio Ramos directed a header straight at Ochoa from a corner moments later at the other end.
Ochoa did well to turn Vazquez's 20-yard strike around the right post on 65 minutes, while Ramos headed the resulting corner wide at the back post.
Morata should have completed his hat-trick on 71 minutes when a cross from the left was touched into his path by James, but the striker sliced his shot wide of the left post from close range.
Granada were looking to attack more and more in the closing stages and they went close on 79 minutes as Gaston Silva and Ramos combined on the left to set up Hongla, who side-footed over from 14 yards on the right out with the goal gaping.
Real's opportunities mainly came on the counter now, with Mariano racing through the middle on 83 minutes and playing in Karim Benzema, whose first-time shot from inside the area on the left went past the far post.
Ramos threatened three minutes later at the other end with a shot from distance that was deflected wide off Nacho, and Ochoa ensured there would be no goals in the second half when he pushed away Benzema's driven effort from 18 yards out, after the Frenchman had surged towards goal in stoppage time.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) May 6, 2017