Granada 1-2 Real Madrid: Los Blancos one win away from La Liga title as Ferland Mendy channeled Roberto Carlos both score.
The full-back’s net-busting first was the highlight of an emphatic first half from Madrid. They have been slammed for the ordinariness of some of their recent wins. But there was a swagger to their ninth straight victory since the restart – at least in those first 45 minutes.
Karim Benzema was at his top hat and tails best in the first half scoring the second. And, enjoying a rare start, Isco showboated alongside him. But it was Mendy who stole the show.
He was midway inside the Granada half when Casemiro played the ball to him after he had been passed to by Modric.
First, there were shades of Marcelo as he made straight for the penalty area but it was vintage Roberto Carlos when he prodded the ball into the space between Victor Diaz and Dimitri Foulquier. He sprinted on to his own pass and thundered the ball into the roof of Rui Silva’s net.
With the goal, he became the 21st different Real Madrid player to score this season – in the absence of a reliable replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo the goals have been shared around.
Benzema has scored 19 of them, however, and with Isco’s backheel freeing Modric to play him in, he drifted in from the left and doubled the lead six minutes later.
Madrid did not have it all their own way and needed Thibaut Courtois to save well from Domingos Duarte in the first half.
The Belgian is well on his way to picking up the Zamora prize this year for the fewest goals conceded.
He would shine in the second period too.
On 50 minutes he was beaten. Impressive Manchester City loanee Yangel Herrera robbed Casemiro and drove forward releasing Darwin Machis.
He cut in from the left and became the first player in 506 minutes of football to beat Courtois.
The second half was not as convincing as the first for Madrid against a Granada side who have made a bold push for a Europa League place.
They also reached a Spanish Cup semi-final in their first season back in the top division after promotion last year.
Courtois got down well to his right to save from Carlos Fernandez and Ramos then cleared off the line as Granada tried to force the rebound over the line.
Madrid was hanging at the end with Granada keeper Rui Silva going up for an injury-time corner. The title race looks far less nervy.
They have once more opened up a four-point gap over Barcelona and two draws from their final two games at home to Villarreal and away to Leganes will be enough.
They won’t want to win it withdraws though; they will want straight win number 10 on Thursday against Santi Cazorla’s Villarreal. If they get it, they will be Champions.