MADRID: A solitary goal from Karim Benzema spared Real Madrid’s blushes as the Spanish giants moved to the top of La Liga with a nervy 1-0 win over Granada on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Atletico Madrid remains just a point behind their city rivals as Fernando Torres came off the bench to inspire Diego Simeone’s men to a 2-0 win at Eibar.
Real had scored 15 times in their previous three matches, but they were grateful to some poor Granada finishing and controversial calls by the officials to claim all three points.
Benzema grabbed the only goal of the game nine minutes into the second-half with a cushioned header from Isco’s fine cross.
Victory moves Madrid a point ahead of Barcelona at the top of the table with the Catalans not in action until Sunday when they host Levante.
“We knew before the game it could be a difficult game, against a good team that counter-attacks well, and that was how it was,” said Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.
“We lost possession that allowed them to counter-attack and we didn’t take our chances which complicated the game.
“I know we have to win and play well, but when the game doesn’t go as you wish, to win and get the three points is very important.”
The scene appeared to be set at a sunny Bernabeu for Cristiano Ronaldo to surpass Raul to become Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer.
There was even a special introduction for the World Player of the Year as his mascot for the day was Zaid Mohsen, the seven-year-old Syrian refugee made famous when he and his father were tripped by a Hungarian camerawoman.