Gareth Bale hat-trick gives Zinedine Zidane first win as Real Madrid boss as they beat Deportivo 5-0
Karim Benzema also scored a brace as Real Madrid closed the gap on Atletico and Barcelona
Zinedine Zidane’s first match in charge of Real Madrid proved to be one to remember as Los Blancos ran out 5-0 winners against Deportivo to cut the gap to one point behind Atletico Madrid, who play tomorrow. A hat-trick from Gareth Bale and a brace from Karim Benzema gave the home side all three points at the Bernabeu to kick start Zidane’s managerial career with a win.
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco; Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema
Deportivo: Lux; Juanfran, Arribas, Sidnei, Navarro; Bergantinos, Mosquera; Cartabia, Alberto, Fajr; Lucas
First Half: Zidane’s Real Madrid off to a flyer
Deportivo were no pushovers at the start of the first half and Victor Sanchez's side had plenty of possession to cause Zidane and the home fans some discomfort. After Ronaldo’s first shot on target was blocked, Deportivo had a chance to go ahead through Lucaz Perez (tied third in La Liga’s top goalscorers this season with 12 goals). But Keylor Navas was up to the task and blocked the effort.
The Bernabeu then saw the first goal of the Zidane managerial era as Real Madrid went ahead in the 17th minute from a set piece. After Ronaldo’s initial header from the cross was deflected away, Sergio Ramos tried to volley it home. But his wayward shot went straight towards Karim Benzema camped at the edge of the six-yard box with his back to goal.
The French striker simply diverted the shot with this back-heel and beat goalkeeper German Lux. Although Deportivo appealed for offisde, replays showed Benzema was played onside while his teammate Gareth Bale was not. The goal was given and it was a landmark goal for Benzema – his 100th in La Liga for Real Madrid.
Real Madrid took little time to double their lead – just eight minutes. Gareth Bale nodded home his 10th goal in La Liga from a superb cross sent in by full-back Dani Carvajal. It was also the Welshman’s fifth headed goal – the highest in La Liga this season.
Real Madrid were playing a 4-2-3-1 formation when they had the ball. But when they lost the ball they quickly switched to a 4-4-2. Isco was tasked with the dirty work in defence on the left flank leaving Ronaldo to roam up front – and the tactic seemed to be working.
The Portuguese forward had a number of chances to score – the first from a header after Bale floated in a cross but he was unlucky to hit the post. He had another chance when a run into the box on the left after a couple of stepovers allowed him to curl a shot into the far top corner but it sailed just over the bar.
At the other end, Luis Alberto tried to curl a looping shot past Navas but the Costa Rican goalkeeper was up to the task and firmly held on to the ball. The half ended with the home side leading 2-0 and a wave of optimism among the fans that was missing from the Bernabeu in recent weeks.
Half-time: Real Madrid 2-0 Deportivo
Second Half: Bale completes his hat-trick and sets a personal landmark
Zidane made a half-time substitution and took off Sergio Ramos for Raphael Varane, apparently after the Spanish defender had suffered an injury. The club captain had been playing with a shoulder problem.
But he wasn’t missed as Real Madrid made it 3-0 less than five minutes after the restart. This time, Ronaldo turned provider for Gareth Bale from the right flank as his cross was coolly put away by Bale to give him his 50th goal for Real Madrid in two-and-a-half seasons. The Welshman timed his run to perfection and side-footed it past Lux to give Ronaldo his sixth assist in La Liga this season.
Gareth Bale then completed his hat-trick with a header from a corner kick. His sixth headed goal took his tally past Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud to top the European charts. The corner was won by Dani Carvajal who did not give up with a late surging run and Deportivo were made to pay for letting him through unmarked by conceding the corner. Bale rose over everyone else in the box to power home Madrid’s fourth.
Bale wasn’t just doing his job in attack. He was also tracking back and made a great sliding challenge in Madrid’s box to deny Deportivo a clear shot on goal, clearly reliving his days as a left-back during his younger days back in England. Zidane finally took off the Welshman so he could soak in the Bernabeu’s applause; they had been chanting his name soon after he completed his hat-trick.
The final stages if the game saw Ronaldo try to get on the scoresheet but, try as he did, he just couldn’t find the back of the net no matter what he tried. In the dying seconds, Ronaldo had a chance to score his first but fluffed his opportunity. But Karim Benzema was on hand to mop up and scored his second and Madrid’s fifth of the game with a powerful shot.
That was how the match ended – five goals for Real Madrid, three points for Zidane and a hat-trick to remember for Bale.