Real Madrid staged a comeback win at the Bernabeu against their earlier bogey team - Deportivo La Coruna. We posted our third win in the league with a 5-1 win courtesy a Cristiano Ronaldo hatrick and goals from Angel Di Maria and Pepe. Deportivo scored through Riki.
Mourinho posted an odd squad for the game with Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien and Fabio Coentrao missing. It was understandable for Carvalho and Essien to be sitting out as Carvalho doesn’t feature in Mourinho’s plans and Essien picked up a knock in mid-week. However, omission of Coentrao was a strange one. He was red carded from the bench against Getafe which later turned into a three game suspension, ending tonight versus Deportivo. Mourinho possibly did not want to try anything new with Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday and Clasico around the corner.
To make matters interesting, Mourinho opted to rest Arbeloa and Alonso from the starting XI. The starting XI consisted of Casillas, Ramos (RB), Varane and Pepe (CB), Marcelo (LB), Modric and Khedira (DM), Ozil and Di Maria (AM), Cristiano and Higuain up top.
Ronaldo had a chance early on to score but his shot was rather tame and saved easily by Aranzubia. The decision of resting key players in Alonso and Arbeloa looked to have taken the wrong turn with Riki scoring in the fifteenth minute. Riki, who played for four years in the Real Madrid youth teams, made most of a Varane slip-up to score with his left foot past a hapless Casillas. Varane could have done better but his inexperience showed as Riki went past him with a little too much ease. A shock lead for Deportivo. (Video)
Despite enjoying plenty of possession and moving forward with much ease, we were not able to create any concrete chances. Things did turn around from the 22nd minute on. Manuel Pablo was adjudged to have brought down Di Maria inside the box and a penalty was awarded. On further TV inspection it looked like it was a questionable call. The contact was made right on the line of the box and there were even doubts whether there was any real contact for Di Maria to go down. As the referee decided, penalty was awarded. Cristiano stepped up and equalised from the spot with much ease. (Video)
Real took the lead in the 38th minute with Di Maria scoring from inside the box having been provided a gorgeous through ball by Luka Modric. Modric played a perfectly timed defence splitting ball from outside his right foot for Di Maria who had also made a good run from behind his marker. He neatly tucked in the ball in the back of the net after the shot took a slight deflection from Aranzubia’s leg. The ball hit the post and found its way in the back of the net. (Video)
Six minutes later, Cristiano got his second and extended Real’s advantage. Ramos’ fierce shot was saved by the goal keeper and Ronaldo was on hand to head the looping ball in the back of the net. A lapse in concentration by the Deportivo defence as they were in sixes and sevens inside their own box. (Video)
This is how it stayed until half time.
Mourinho introduced Kaka at half time with Ozil being withdrawn. This was Kaka’s first official game this season (he played and scored a hatrick versus Millonarios in mid-week in Trofeo Bernabeu). A smart idea to give Ozil some rest with the game nearly in the bag.
Later Modric was taken off to a resounding applause from the Bernabeu with Alonso coming in.
In the 66th minute, Alonso swung in a perfect free-kick into the centre of the box. Pepe was on hand to head in from close range to make it 4-1 to us. This was Pepe’s first goal in 10 months with his last coming against Osasuna in November. (Video)
The pounding was complete in the 84th minute with Kaka winning a penalty for a handball inside the box. The ball struck Evaldo’s hand while Kaka tried to provide a cross in the centre of the box. Find this decision of every handball being a penalty and a yellow card to be strange. Evaldo had no intention to block the ball with his hand and he was standing very close to Kaka as well. Alas, that’s how the Spanish referees work and Cristiano converted from the penalty spot to bag his fifteenth hatrick as a Real Madrid. (Video)
Not that he was directly involved in any of the goals but Khedira had a stellar game today. He was absolutely sensational in defending and when venturing forward providing support to the attack. He was his usual calm and composed self and in my opinion could share the man of the match honours with Di Maria or Cristiano. Who was your choice for man of the match?
This is how it finished at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu with Real Madrid 8 points behind Barcelona who are top of the table and continue to be unbeaten in the league. Next week is the big one - Barcelona v Real Madrid!