Real Madrid made it two wins from two with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Granada in a low-key game which was badly lacking in quality end product in the final third at times.
The only goal came just before the 10-minute mark in the game after some statuesque defending from Granada allowed Cristiano Ronaldo's run to evade everybody at the back post.
He slightly mis-controlled his first touch, but the ball bounced to Karim Benzema, who was able to dispatch his shot confidently past Roberto.
GOAAAAAL!!! BENZEMAA!!!— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) August 26, 2013
Only four minutes later, Mesut Özil thought he'd doubled the lead after he lobbed the keeper following a quickly taken free kick, only for the referee to call back play to retake the set piece.
Replays showed he was right to do so, as Angel Di Maria had rolled the ball slightly before taking the free kick, and thus the ball was still in motion.
Granada's Youssef El Arabi had the best chance of the rest of the half when he was played through one-on-one with Diego Lopez, but hit his shot straight at the Real No. 1.
Özil went close again with a near-post drive and Sergio Ramos was off-target with a pair of headers, but a largely forgettable first half ran out of steam early on, and Real looked comfortable with their lead at the break.
Granada improved after half-time in terms of getting players forward, but they only really troubled Lopez when he made minor errors himself, flapping at a corner and being caught off his line for a Riki lob that flew over the crossbar.
Real looked bright in getting the ball into the final third, but frequently ran out of ideas when they got there.
For star attacker Ronaldo in particular, it was a frustrating night of half-chances and failing to adequately control the ball in the final third. His three free kicks—straight into the wall each time—were symptomatic of his entire evening's performance.
Indeed it was Granada who finished the stronger side and should have had a penalty after Diego Buonanotte was tripped in the penalty area by Casemiro, but the referee inexplicably signalled a goal kick.
Real hung on for a victory they scarcely deserved, and Carlo Ancelotti will feel justified at his three defensive-minded substitutions—Nacho, Casemiro and Dani Carvajal—even if those on the terraces were less than impressed.
RMadridGirl (@RMadridGirl) August 26, 2013
Three more points for Real, and while this was a home defeat for Granada, there are plenty of positives they can take from the game themselves.
Key Player Grades
Cristiano Ronaldo: C+
You can't fault the man for effort, but Cristiano Ronaldo will have had better games in his career while asleep and with one arm tied behind his back than he did against Granada. Nothing came off for him at al,l and even his assist for Benzema's goal was as a result of his shoddy control bouncing back to his strike partner. His team got the win, though, and he'll likely have a better performance next time out.
Luka Modric: B
Modric was employed in a double-pivot midfield alongside Isco from the start, hardly the stuff of heavyweight battlers, but they got the job done.
Real dominated most of the first hour of the game, with Modric springing passes on each side and venturing forward to the edge of the penalty box to good effect at times. He was, however, overrun and a little lost after the break as the opposition came forward more and as he missed the influence of Sami Khedira beside him.
Diego Lopez: C
Lopez continues to keep Iker Casillas out of the team but, despite keeping a clean sheet, he was far from convincing against Granada. He didn't have too much to do in terms of saves, but Lopez looked shaky in the air at times and could have cost his side a goal on another day after flapping at the ball twice in a few minutes, leading to a shot from Riki just clearing his bar.
Real keep up their winning start to the season, enough to keep the vultures at bay for now, but Carlo Ancelotti will know that better, more convincing performances will be expected going forward. Real next face Athletic Bilbao in what will be a tough encounter at the Bernabeu. Granada are away to Celta Vigo on Saturday.