Real Madrid continued its La Liga resurgence after their early season struggles thanks to goals from Angel Di Maria, Pepe and a hat trick from Cristiano Ronaldo.
With one eye on the Champions League clash with Ajax in midweek, Jose Morinho made four changes to the side that claimed Los Blancos’ first away win of the season against Rayo Vallecano last week.
Sami Khedira returned to the midfield in place of Xabi Alonso and the German showed his early joy at a recall by out muscling his opponent in midfield to play in Cristiano Ronaldo for the first real chance of the game after 10 minutes.
Alvaro Arbeloa dropped to the bench as Sergio Ramos went to right back to make way for Raphael Varane, and the young Frenchman will be disappointed with how easily he allowed Riki to skip away and poke past Iker Casillas to give Depor a shock lead after 15 minutes.
However the home side was level less than 10 minutes later when Di Maria beat Manuel Pablo on the right before the veteran brought him down right on the edge of the box. Referee Miguel Angel Ayza Gamez deemed the incident to have taken place inside the area, and Ronaldo stepped up to calmly stroke home the equaliser.
36-year-old Pablo was made to endure a torrid time, with Di Maria and Ronaldo swapping flanks as Madrid repeatedly hit long diagonal passes in behind the former Spain international. It was a ball inside the fullback that saw Di Maria put the home side ahead.
With Mesut Ozil coming returning to the side for the injured Michael Essien, Luka Modric took up a deeper role than he did last week and the two combined before the Croatian played a perfectly weighted pass inside Pablo for Di Maria. The Argentinian saw his initial effort come back off the post, but followed up to head home from close range.
Ronaldo grabbed his second goal of the evening five minute later, heading into an empty net after Ramos saw his shot parried up into the air by Aranzubia.
Kaka also returned to the squad after netting a hat trick in a midweek friendly against Millonarios on Wednesday, and he replaced Ozil to make his first appearance league of the season at halftime after the German’s work rate was deemed unsatisfactory by Mourinho. It wasn’t a vintage performance from the Brazilian but the recall will no doubt be a confident boost for the 30-year-old who looked to be on his way out of Madrid, especially when coupled with his return to the international fold this past week.
Xabi Alonso, who was the only outfield player at Madrid to have played every minute of the season so far prior to this evening, replaced Modric on the hour mark, and less than 10 minutes later the Spain international’s free kick found Pepe unmarked to make it four.
Ronaldo completed his hat trick with eight minutes remaining, converting his second spot kick of the night after Kaka’s attempted cross had struck Evaldo’s hand inside the area.
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- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Xabi Alonso
- Real Madrid
- Sergio Ramos
- Di Maria
- La Liga