The ultimate winning machine that is Real Madrid rolled on with abandon in a 3-0 victory over Deportivo in their league opener on Sunday night at the Estadio Riazor in La Coruna.
Gareth Bale, Casemiro and Toni Kroos all scored in what was a straightforward and decisive win for the reigning La Liga champions, with the only stain being a last minute sending off for Sergio Ramos.
Deportivo should be commended for trying to play a positive brand of football, but they were simply out-classed by the vast array of attacking talent possessed by Zinedine Zidane’s side.
With talisman Cristiano Ronaldo out suspended, Zidane restored Isco to the starting XI, while Nacho got the nod ahead of Raphael Varane in defence.
Deportivo looked up for a fight and Keylor Navas had to spring into action twice early on to deny Florin Andone. First, the Romanian shouldered Dani Carvajal off the ball and forced the Costa Rican into a sprawling save; moments later Andone beat Ramos on a long ball, only for Navas to stand tall and prevent the opening goal.
Real began to impose their will and soon enough the first goal fell their way. Marcelo swung a pass across to Luka Modric, whose shot was bobbled by Deportivo goalkeeper Ruben and it fell to Karim Benzema, who fed Bale and it was an easy slam into net for the Welshman and a 1-0 lead for Zidane’s men.
The goal only strengthened Real, and a 2-0 lead followed minutes later when a 44-pass build-up was finished off by deep Marcelo cross from the left that found Casemiro at the back post.
At the other end Depor remained intent on attacking, but at half-time it was Real’s efficiency in front of goal that marked the difference.
Things turned more physical in the second-half, and it fired up both the crowd and the home side and if not for a Ramos clearance off the line, Andone’s header would have found the back of the net. The Andalusian defender was lucky that he was still on the pitch, as he easily could have seen red for a hand to the face of Schar, but instead he was issued a yellow and allowed to continue.
As so often happens, right when an opponent thinks that they are going to break through and score, Real extinguish any hopes of a potential comeback. Depor were the latest victim, as Kroos calmly slotted in a shot after a pass back from Bale to hand Los Blancos a commanding 3-0 lead.
Even good fortune was on Real’s side, as minutes after the Kroos strike, Guilherme had a shot bounce off the crossbar.
The healthy lead allowed Zidane to make a couple switches to give several key players some rest, with Isco, Casemiro and Bale yielding their places to Marco Asensio, Marcos Llorente and Lucas Vazquez, respectively.
Deportivo’s bad night was capped in the match’s final minutes when Andone flubbed a penalty after Carvajal had taken Bruno Gama down in the top corner of the penalty area. It was a weak effort from the Romanian and Navas stretched to his right to deflect the ball wide.
There was still some drama though and Ramos was in the middle of it for an elbow to the head of Borja Valle, which earned the centre-back a foolish sending off with just seconds remaining.
Real will return to action next Sunday at home versus Valencia.
0.- Deportivo: Ruben; Juanfran, Schar, Sidnei, Luisinho; Mosquera, Guilherme, Celso Borges (Adrian, min. 65), Cartabia (Borja Valle, min. 79); Bakkali (Gama, min. 54), Andone.
3.- Real Madrid: Keylor; Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo; Isco (Asensio, min. 66), Casemiro (Llorente, min. 72), Modric, Kroos; Bale (Lucas Vazquez, min. 80), Benzema.
Goals: 0-1, min. 21: Bale; 0-2, min. 27: Casemiro; 0-2, min. 62: Kroos.
Referee: Gonzalez Gonzalez (Castilla y Leon).
Yellow cards: Bakkali (Min. 24) for Deportivo, Schar (Min. 53) for Deportivo, Ramos (Min. 53) for Real Madrid, Cartabia (Min. 61) for Deportivo, Mosquera (Min. 84) for Deportivo, And one (Min. 87) for Deportivo, Ramos (min. 92) for Real Madrid.
Red cards: Ramos (Min. 92) for Real Madrid.