Real ties Barca’s unbeaten record at 39

The Associated Press

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, center, celebrates with Marcelo and Francisco “Isco” Alarcon after scoring his team’s third goal against Granada in Spanish La Liga action on Saturday.

The Associated PressMADRID (AP) — Real Madrid tied Barcelona’s Spanish record of 39 games unbeaten in all competitions by crushing Granada 5-0 in La Liga on Saturday.

Francisco “Isco” Alarcon scored twice and Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Casemiro added on at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Madrid was six points ahead of Barcelona, which plays fifth-place Villarreal on Sunday.

Sevilla, which defeated sixth-place Real Sociedad 4-0, was four points off the lead.

Ronaldo, who was rested in Madrid’s 3-0 first-leg win against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, scored with a close-range header off a cross by Marcelo.

Before the match, he was honored in a ceremony to mark the Ballon d’Or award he earned last month.

Former Madrid players who won similar awards participated, including Luis Figo, Brazilian striker Ronaldo and coach Zinedine Zidane.

“It was important to begin the year like this,” 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 twice since taking over Madrid a year ago, already matched the club record of 34 games without a defeat set in 1989 under coach Leo Beenhakker.

The Spanish unbeaten 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 after a mistake by the Granada defense while trying to move the ball forward, and Benzema — in an offside position — added to the lead 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.

Casemiro scored the final goal nearly an hour in 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.

Atletico holds its ground

Meanwhile, Atletico avoided losing even more ground to Real Madrid thanks to second-half goals by Saul Niguez and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win over Eibar.

Nigue scored with a header after a cross by Filipe Luis, and Griezmann sealed the victory from close range.

The result moved Diego Simeone’s team to fourth place, but still nine points behind Madrid.

It was Atletico’s second win in a row after it earned only four points in five straight league matches.

“We are back to being the Atletico of old,” Griezmann said. “We are defending very well, and up front we are efficient with the chances that we create.”

Winless in four league games, Eibar dropped to ninth place.Speech

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