Sport

Ronaldo brace guides Madrid to first league win

Monday, September 03, 2012    

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice before injuring his leg to steer Real Madrid to a 3-0 home win over Granada yesterday, the defending champions' first victory after three rounds of the Spanish season.

Madrid displayed little of the attacking flair they unleashed to topple Barcelona in the Spanish Supercup earlier this week, but Ronaldo's first league goals this season proved more than enough against the modest talents of Granada.

Ronaldo scored in the 26th and 54th minutes before leaving the pitch grimacing and favouring his left leg following a tackle by Borja Gomez that cost the Granada defender a second booking.

The Portugal striker chose not to celebrate his goals.

With Granada down a man, Gonzalo Higuain scored in the 76th to seal the much-needed win. Madrid had only one point after the first two rounds.

Also, Athletic Bilbao beat Valladolid 2-0 for the Basques first win of the season. Sevilla drew 0-0 at Rayo Vallecano, and 10-man Levante came from behind to win 3-2 against visiting Espanyol.

In a late match, last season's runners-up FC Barcelona and Valencia were due to clash at the Camp Nou stadium.

In his first start for Madrid since joining from Tottenham, Luka Modric looked eager to justify his ¤35 million ($44 million) price tag. The Croatia playmaker drew an early save from Antonio 'Tono' Rodriguez and combined well with his new teammates.

Ronaldo opened for the defending champions when he slotted Jose Callejon's pass between Tono's legs from a tight angle on the left side of the area.

But just like in the previous two matches against Valencia and Getafe, Madrid retreated after going in front, giving Granada a chance to come forward.

Granada forwards Floro Flores and Youssef El Arabi both came close before Ronaldo tested Tono just before the break.

Mourinho sent on winger Angel Di Maria for Callejon at the start of the second half to try to jumpstart his attack.

The Argentina international quickly responded by sliding a throughball to Ronaldo cutting toward the near post. Tono did well to block his first shot, only to see the ball fall to Ronaldo's feet for him to fire into the open net.

The Portugal striker chose not to celebrate his goals, apparently still displeased with his lacklustre play in the league.

Reduced to 10 men after Gomez's sending off, the visitors fell apart at the back, leaving Higuain alone to tap in a cross from an equally unmarked Karim Benzema and cap the victory.

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