Wed, Aug 28, 2013 - Page 18 News List

LA LIGA: Real Madrid grind out win at Granada

PENALTY SHOUT:Granada were denied a chance to snatch a point late on when the referee failed to spot a trip on Diego Buonanotte by Casemiro inside the area


Real Madrid’s Isco, center, battles for the ball with Granada’s Pape Diakhate, left, in their La Liga match in Granada, Spain, on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

Real Madrid made it two wins from two games under Carlo Ancelotti with a 1-0 victory at Granada, but Los Blancos were again made to work for the three points.

Rumors of Gareth Bale’s impending arrival in Madrid had somewhat overshadowed the buildup to the game, but the visitors did not appear distracted as Karim Benzema opened the scoring after just 10 minutes.

Mesut Ozil then had a goal ruled out and Isco struck the post after the break as Madrid continued to have the lion’s share of the chances.

However, Granada were denied a great chance to snatch a point five minutes from time when referee Javier Estrada Fernandez failed to spot a trip on Diego Buonanotte by Casemiro inside the penalty area.

“I am happy. It was an important result,” Ancelotti told a press conference. “In the first half we played very well with a very fast rhythm. The team was compact defensively, despite the fact we had a lot of offensive players as they all worked hard. The rhythm was slower in the second half and as a result the game was more difficult.”

Real also won by just the odd goal against Real Betis Balompie in their first La Liga match, but Ancelotti stressed it is vital to keep winning while they make the adjustments to the style he wants to play.

“I saw the Barca game yesterday and they had a difficult match too. We are trying to change a few things in our philosophy and at this point it is important to pick up points as we go along,” he said.

Ancelotti’s decision to keep faith with Diego Lopez in goal ahead of Spain international captain Iker Casillas was the big news before kickoff, but the Italian picked a very attack-minded lineup, with Angel di Maria coming in for the injured Sami Khedira, and the former AC Milan boss was rewarded with a very bright start by his side.

Benzema should have put Real in front after just five minutes when he skewed wide after a lovely reverse ball from Di Maria had played him in.

The Frenchman made amends five minutes later, though, as Di Maria’s cross from the right was inadvertently knocked into Benzema’s path by Cristiano Ronaldo and he swept home from close range for his second goal of the season.

Ozil then had what would have been a lovely second goal ruled out as Fernandez adjudged the ball was still moving when Di Maria sent a quickly taken free-kick over the top for the Germany international to lob over Roberto.

However, Madrid’s natural attacking instinct was also leaving them susceptible to the counterattack and Youssef El-Arabi had a great chance to equalize on 19 minutes, but Alvaro Arbeloa just got the slightest touch to take the sting out of the Moroccan’s effort and Lopez made a comfortable save.

Madrid continued to pose the greater threat after halftime and Isco came within centimeters of a magical second as he cut inside and fired a shot off the outside of the post.

Ronaldo also had a decent opening 13 minutes from time, but he could only fire straight at Roberto as his search for his first goal of the season continued.

The home supporters and players were left furious in the closing stages when Buonanotte weaved his way along the byline and seemed to be clipped from behind by a misjudged challenge from Casemiro.

However, Fernandez was unmoved and Madrid held on to join Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal at the top of the table with maximum points from two games.

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