Madrid: Real Madrid appeared poised to rout Granada but ended up having to battle for a hard-fought 4-2 home victory in LaLiga Matchday.
With the win on Saturday night, the Blancos (18 points) consolidated their place at the top of the Spanish-league standings and currently enjoy a four-point lead over second-placed Granada and third-placed Atletico Madrid, who will visit Valladolid on Sunday.
The match also was an important one for star Belgian attacking midfielder Eden Hazard, who had been hampered by a thigh injury since joining the Spanish club with much fanfare this summer but finally opened his account with his new team when he chipped the ball over the head of Granada goalie Rui Silva and into the back of the net in first-half stoppage time at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, reports Efe news.
That score by the former Chelsea standout made the score 2-0 and was heartily celebrated by the home crowd, who are still waiting for a new superstar to lead the way in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era.
Real Madrid had needed little time to open the scoring on Saturday afternoon, with Karim Benzema finding the net from close range off a pass from Gareth Bale that had scooted through the penalty area in the second minute.
Afterward, the Blancos' head coach stressed the importance of the match for Hazard.
"We need Eden to be like that, playing well and scoring goals. He was happy at the end of the match in the locker room. We're pleased about his goal, and I hope it's the first of many," Zinedine Zidane said.
"He really wanted to have a game like this, score a goal and be in form. It's normal for all of us to want him to do well. He has a lot of quality. He made decisive passes. He scored. I'm happy for him and his teammates are too."
Despite the loss, surprising Granada still are provisionally in second place in LaLiga, but they could find themselves several spots lower in the standings by the end of the weekend depending on the results of Sunday's contests.