Ronaldo scores as Madrid matches Barcelona’s unbeaten record
Updated: 12:03 a.m., Jan. 8, 2017
MADRID — Cristiano Ronaldo began his year by scoring in the 5-0 demolition of Granada on Saturday in La Liga as Real Madrid tied Barcelona’s Spanish record of 39 games unbeaten in all competitions.
Francisco “Isco” Alarcon scored twice and Karim Benzema and Casemiro added a goal each at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid is six points ahead of second-placed Barcelona, which plays fourth-placed Villarreal on Sunday.
Ronaldo, who was rested in Madrid’s first-leg 3-0 win against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, scored with a close-range header off a cross by Marcelo in the 27th minute.
“It was important to begin the year like this,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We have to keep this pace the rest of the year.”
Madrid’s last setback was a 2-0 loss at Wolfsburg in the quarterfinal first leg of the Champions League in April. Since then, it has won 30 games and drawn nine under Zidane, a run that included three titles.
Zidane, who has lost only two games since taking over Madrid a year ago, had already matched the club record of 34 games without a defeat set in 1989 under coach Leo Beenhakker.
The Spanish record set by Luis Enrique’s Barcelona last season ended with a loss to Madrid at Camp Nou in April.
“It gives us great satisfaction to equal this record,” Zidane said. “We have no limits and we will do everything possible to keep this going.”
Madrid, which has won eight of its last nine league games, will have a chance to take the record outright in the second leg at Sevilla on Thursday.
Isco opened the scoring with a low shot from inside the area in the 12th after a mistake by the Granada defense while trying to move the ball forward, and Benzema — in an offside position — added to the lead in the 20th off the rebound of a shot by Luka Modric.
Benzema, who also was rested against Sevilla, has scored in seven consecutive games against Granada. He has a total of 10 goals in 11 matches against the team from southern Spain.
Ronaldo increased the lead after Marcelo cleared a defender in the left side before making a perfect cross into the area, and Isco netted again from close range after a low cross by Modric from the right flank for 4-0 in the 31st.
Casemiro scored the final goal in the 58th after a free kick by James Rodriguez, who entered in the second half after impressing against Sevilla midweek.
Madrid was still without injured defenders Sergio Ramos and Pepe, as well as forward Gareth Bale.
Granada remained second-to-last in the 20-team standings.
Third-placed Sevilla plays at fifth-placed Real Sociedad later Saturday, while sixth-placed Atletico faces Eibar. –Tales Azzoni