Many of us will remember Super Depor – the team that won the league, and sent 4 goals past AC Milan in a memorable Champions League quarter-final tie. The Deportivo de La Coruña that came to the Bernabéu today was a very different team, newly promoted from the second division, and although they took an unlikely lead they were unable to prevent a shower of Real Madrid goals.
José Mourinho’s line-up changed once again for this game, with Luka Modrić pulled back to play next to Sami Khedira, who was back in the line-up this week. Xabi Alonso was given the evening off. Ahead of Modrić and Khedira, and also returning to the line-up, were Mesut Özil and Gonzalo Higuain. Raphaël Varane played next to Pepe in the centre of defence, while Sergio Ramos played right fullback in his 300th first division game.
The First Half: Madrid Come From Behind
It was shades of déjà vu when Madrid fell behind in the 15th minute to a Riki goal after sloppy defending from Marcelo and Raphael Varane. With such an outrageous scoreline it is easy to forget that in the early stages of the game the team looked lacklustre and tired, with Higuaín largely anonymous and Cristiano Ronaldo initially looking off-colour.
A few minutes later Depor conceded a penalty (dispatched, as usual, by CR7) when Ángel di María was brought down on the edge of the penalty area. It was right on the chalk, so Depor may feel hard done by, but the foul was unquestionable, and there was no way that the referee could not have awarded the penalty with the foul so close on the line. There were certainly no protests from the Depor defence.
Something to note: nearly every meaningful attack from Madrid came through Sami Khedira, who put Ronaldo through on goal twice (11th and 33rd minutes) and who screened the defence nearly single-handedly as Modrić played further forward than Alonso is accustomed to. And it was Modrić who was responsible for putting Madrid ahead in the 39th minute, finding Ángel di María with a beautiful defence splitting pass with the outside of his boot. Di Maria’s strike brushed the underside of Aranzubia’s arm as it hit the back of the net. Madrid were now ahead.
In the final moments of the first half Cristiano Ronaldo made it 3-1 after getting a rebound when the keeper saved a Sergio Ramos strike from close range.
The Second Half – Complete Dominance
Mourinho, likely thinking ahead to fixtures in the coming week, made his substitutions very early in the game, even by his standards, with all three coming before the 65th minute. Kaká, so influential mid-week in the friendly against Millonarios, came on for Özil (who was on a yellow card) at the start of the second half. 10 minutes later Modrić was off for Xabi Alonso. Benzema for Higuaín completed the changes.
Khedira remained the best player on the pitch, and Depor were even less effective on the break with Alonso back in the formation. Xabi’s first touch was a shot at goal and he was responsible for Madrid’s 4th of the evening – sending a beautiful pass into the box that bounced off Pepe and into goal.
After a long period of Madrid dominance (Madrid were to finish with 21 attempts on goal, 500 passes and 58% possession), and with the Depor defence completely frazzled, a second penalty was awarded after a hand-ball. Once again CR7 put the ball away to get his hat-trick, his sixteenth in La Liga.