CRISTIANO RONALDO HIT a brace to reach a landmark 150 goals in 149 games for Real Madrid as they got their league campaign back on track on Sunday with a 3-0 win over ten-man Granada.
Despite beating Barcelona to lift the domestic Super Cup in midweek the pressure was starting to grow on the team with just a point from their opening two league games but Ronaldo responded with a goals in either half to continue his remarkable scoring run in Madrid.
The first owed as much to poor keeping from Antonio ‘Tono’ Rodriguez as the Portuguese’s shot from a tight angle after 25 minutes went through his legs, although it did take a slight deflection off Inigo Lopez.
Ronaldo got his second after 53 minutes and Granada’s hopes of a comeback took a blow with Borja Gomez sent off six minutes later. Substitute Gonzalo Higuain completed the scoring with a tap-in 15 minutes from the end.
Later Barcelona hope to maintain their 100 percent record when they entertain Valencia.
Jose Mourinho rotated his squad which included giving Luka Modric a starting place after he came on for the last few minutes against Barca while Karim Benzema was chosen instead of Higuain to lead the line.
Granada, who also just had one point, were aiming to frustrate Madrid and build the anxiety in the Bernabeu but Jose Callejon could have settled the nerves inside the first few minutes from a neat pass by Modric.
However, ‘keeper Tono got down well to block him.
Granada survived and, while Madrid were clearly in charge and passing the ball around, they were finding it difficult to create further openings.
Ronaldo had looked sluggish in his first two league games and he failed to trouble the ‘keeper with a free-kick and a couple of shots from distance before he did break the deadlock with a soft goal from Granada’s perspective.
The visitors had shown nothing going forward and were now forced to come out of their shells.
Their tactic was to test Madrid in the air — where they have struggled this season — and they began to cause the home side problems, although Ronaldo could have added a second before the break with a drive which Tono was alert to.
Angel Di Maria came on after half time and he set up Ronaldo, who saw his shot from inside the box saved by Tono before reacting to knock home the rebound.
Gomez was given his second yellow card for a foul on Ronaldo and then Higuain sealed the win from a Benzema pass.
Barcelona look to bounce back from their cup disappointment and coach Tito Vilanova, who faces the ominous task of continuing Pep Guardiola’s golden spell at the club, denies it will be a problem.
“This isn’t a psychological blow, we would have prefered to win but it isn’t make or break for the season and we now return to the league,” he said.
“The team is fine, we know we are just starting and we now have a difficult game but we want to go into the international break with nine points.
“Valencia have made some changes in the summer but they are dangerous and have players like Roberto Soldado who can find space well. They are also a threat from set-plays.”
Earlier Rayo Vallecano drew 0-0 with Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao overcame Valladolid 2-0, while Levante dramatically came from behind to beat Espanyol 3-2, with defender Raul Rodriguez deflecting the ball into his own net in time added on to decide the game in the home side’s favour.
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