Football

Zidane insists Real won't get complacent

Real boss rests key players in big win over Granada, but insists they won't get complacent

Real Madrid produced a ruthless first-half display to thrash already-relegated Granada 4-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time) to remain on course for a first La Liga title in five years, despite making nine changes from the team that beat Atletico Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League in midweek.

James Rodriguez put Zinedine Zidane's side in charge in the third minute by bundling in Lucas Vazquez's cross and then headed in a cross from forgotten man Fabio Coentrao to double their lead in the 11th minute. Rodriguez has now scored five goals in four games.

Alvaro Morata followed the Colombian's early strikes with two goals of his own in the 30th and 35th minutes to kill off Tony Adams' sunken side and put Real level on 84 points with champions Barcelona, who hammered Villarreal 4-1 in an earlier match.

Barca lead the standings due to their superior head-to-head record although Real have a game in hand and will win a first domestic title since 2012 if they take seven points from their remaining three games.

Real could also win a league and European Cup double for the first time since 1958 as they are 3-0 up in their Champions League semi-final tie with Atletico Madrid, with the second leg taking place on Thursday morning.

With the European fixture in mind, Zidane rested the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Marcelo against Granada, but denied that he had played a second-string side.

Said the Frenchman: "In football, the Champions League semi-final does not allow you to relax. If we do that, Atletico Madrid will cause some harm.

"We have to go out hard and try to win the second leg as well.

"There is no B-team here. We know there are players who feature less but you can sense we are never less than fully dedicated.

"We had a good game today."

Striker Morata feels the victory was a display of the squad's depth.

"Every opponent gives you a difficult game but we started the game really well and scored early," he said.

"We've got difficult games to come but we're very good, we have 24 players that always want to play and we need to keep going like this and go for the league title."

Barca's formidable front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all scored as the defending champions inflicted the heaviest league defeat of the season on Villarreal, who have the second-best defensive record in Spain's top flight.

Neymar was in sensational form in his second game back from suspension and nudged Barcelona ahead in the 21st minute after pouncing on a deflected pass from Messi.

[Quotation Text] Zinedine Zidane

Cedric Bakambu fired Villarreal level in the 32nd minute after beating the offside trap to latch on to a clever through ball from Roberto Soldado.

Barca were temporarily punctured by the leveller but a marvellous piece of skill from Messi allowed them to restore their lead on the stroke of half-time with a shot from the Argentinian which flew beyond Andres Fernandez with the help of a deflection.

Suarez powered the ball under the Villarreal goalkeeper in the 69th minute to score his third goal in two games and the 100th for the feted front three this campaign, while Messi grabbed the fourth with a deft chip from the penalty spot eight minutes from time.

"We played very well with and without the ball and scoring four goals against this Villarreal side shows how well we did," said Barca coach Luis Enrique.

"Our pressure was key and we produced a complete performance against a great side." - WIRE SERVICES

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