Rodrygo strikes again as Madrid catch Girona with Granada win

AFP , Saturday 2 Dec 2023

Rodrygo continued his fine goalscoring form to help Real Madrid ease to a 2-0 win over Granada on Saturday and reclaim the lead in La Liga.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid's Rodrygo, left, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Spanish La Liga football match between Real Madrid and Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. Photo: AP

 

After Catalan minnows Girona snatched a 2-1 win over Valencia they moved temporarily top, but Madrid slid back above them on goal difference on a tranquil evening in the capital.

Brahim Diaz opened the scoring midway through the first half and Rodrygo doubled the lead after 57 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Brazilian forward has scored seven goals in his last five games across all competitions, appearing at the perfect time to keep Madrid's strong start to the season going despite various absences.

Madrid are missing several key figures through injury, from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to winger Vinicius Junior.

However, Los Blancos had more than enough to sweep past the Andalucians, 19th and battling against relegation.

Granada set up with five at the back to try and keep Carlo Ancelotti's side at arm's length and although it worked to an extent, Madrid claiming three points was rarely in doubt.

Without creating an excess of chances, Madrid quickly took control of the game.

After 26 minutes Toni Kroos' superb pass sent Diaz in on goal and he stayed cool to gently nudge home and put Madrid ahead.

It was the former Manchester City playmaker's second goal in four matches, with Diaz showing he can help the red-hot Rodrygo fill the gap left by Vinicius Junior's injury.

Jude Bellingham, La Liga's top goalscorer with 11 strikes, could have added another just before half-time but scuffed his shot across goal, the ball bobbling wide.

The England international, booked for dissent earlier on, appealed vehemently for a penalty before the break when he was upended by Ignasi Miquel, who took the ball first, and his protests were waved away.

Madrid's second arrived after a neat team move, with Joselu and Diaz combining to tee up Bellingham.

Granada goalkeeper Andre Ferreira denied the midfielder but Rodrygo galloped onto the rebound and smashed home before the hour mark.

Fede Valverde could have made it three when Bellingham found him with a deft pass but Ferreira tipped his effort to safety.

"I think the team gave everything, we left our skins out there, we have nothing to criticise ourselves for," Granada defender Ricard Sanchez told DAZN.

The visitors were dealt a late blow when winger Bryan Zaragoza limped off injured.

Atletico Madrid, third, visit champions Barcelona, fourth, on Sunday, both looking to cut down the seven-point gap on the top two.

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