Real Madrid hammer Granada to equal record

BARCELONA: 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 a simple victory by latching on to a pass from Karim Benzema and squeezing the ball under Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in the 12th minute.

Benzema tapped in the second 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.

"We played a great game, it was a complete performance, we scored five but we could have got more, we're really satisfied with how we've started the new year," Modric told reporters.

"We had a week off and when we came back we did a short pre-season, we've worked hard and today it paid off on the pitch."

Although Granada are 19th in the table and have won just one game, the Andalusians made life hard for champions Barcelona back in October, only losing 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 they only conceded 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 serious 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.

Third-placed Sevilla, seven points behind Real, visit Sevilla later on Saturday and Atletico Madrid travel to Eibar.