Madrid, Feb 6 (EFE).- A late left-footed long-distance shot by Marco Asensio got Real Madrid out of a jam at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday, handing the hosts a 1-0 victory over an organized, albeit not brilliant, Granada and thus increasing the capital squad’s La Liga table lead to six points ahead of second-placed Sevilla.
It was Asensio’s sixth La Liga goal and put Real Madrid one step closer to securing the Spanish First Division title, coming after 74 minutes of inability by Carlos Ancelotti’s men – who were minus key striker Karim Benzema, on the injured list, and Vinicius Junior, out on suspension – to break the Granada defense.
The capital team had also lost Casemiro and Lucas Vazquez to illness just before the match before 47,000 fans.
Granada seemed to be doing pretty well in the first half, with Antonio Puertas firing a good shot early on that Real goaltender Thibaut Courtois stopped, and with the recently signed Myrto Uzuni taking several good passes that threatened to morph into tallies – but somehow didn’t.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, did not really get going until the second half, with their only good chance before the break coming when Granada’s Carlos Neva tried to clear the ball close in and almost knocked it into his own net past the guarding Luis Maximiano.
Replacing Vinicius and Benzema were Isco and Rodrygo, but Ancelotti pulled them in the 65th minute shortly before Asensio hit for gold, that shot being a curving blow into the corner after Eder Militao obtained the ball and sent it to him for the blast.
The hometown fans wanted a second goal as insurance and it looked like Hazard, who played well throughout, might have secured a penalty kick even later in the action but a VAR review of the incident found that he was fouled outside the area, resulting in a free kick by Toni Kroos that a virtually immobile Maximiano grabbed.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Marcelo (Nacho, m.84); Camavinga (Fede Valverde, m.46), Kroos, Modric (Ceballos, m.87); Marco Asensio, Isco (Jovic, m.65) and Rodrygo (Hazard, m.65).
Granada: Maximiano; Quini, Germán, Torrente, Neva; Collado (Petrovic, m.71), Milla (Rochina, m.81), Gonalons, Puertas (Raba, m.71); Uzuni (Arezo, m.81) and Luis Suarez (Jorge Molina, m.62).