Zinedine Zidane‘s reign as Real Madrid boss got underway with a 5-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday evening.
Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick for the hosts, while Karim Benzema netted twice against a Deportivo team that entered the match having only lost three times in the league this season.
The victory has moved Los Blancos onto 40 points in the La Liga table, but they are still third behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who both have a game in hand. Deportivo, meanwhile, remain in eighth position on 27 points.
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Real Madrid were on the front foot from the first whistle at the Bernabeu, but Deportivo’s quality in the final third produced a shooting chance for Luis Alberto, who fired over the crossbar after linking with the impressive Lucas Perez.
Cristiano Ronaldo then stung the palms of German Lux down the other end, but that was not before Deportivo had another half-chance – Faycal Fajr firing at Keylor Navas after a deep Juanfran cross had caused the home side problems.
Perez, who was looking for his 13th league goal of the season, had the first outstanding chance of the match in the 11th minute, but the Spaniard could not find a route past Navas from inside the Real Madrid box.
The hosts took the lead in the 15th minute, but there was a touch of controversy about the goal. Benzema’s clever flick from a Sergio Ramos corner landed in the back of the net, but Bale, who was standing in an offside position, seemed to be restricting the view of Lux in the Deportivo net.
Real Madrid went looking for a second and came close through Marcelo, but it was Bale that scored their second in the 22nd minute when he headed a super Dani Carvajal cross into the back of the net. Ronaldo almost had the home side’s third minutes later, but after giving Juanfran the slip, his low strike just fizzed wide of the post.
Deportivo remained a threat as the first half approached its latter stages and Perez twice just missed the post with powerful strikes from distance, while Luka Modric came close to making it 3-0 down the other end.
Ronaldo had Real Madrid’s best chance in the closing minutes of the first period, but the Portuguese could only head a delicious Bale cross against the post from close range as Los Blancos went into the interval two goals ahead.
It did not take long for the home side to make it 3-0, however, with Bale expertly converting a Ronaldo cross into the bottom corner to double his tally for the evening in the 49th minute.
Both teams had opportunities in the period that followed, but Lucas once again missed the target, before Ronaldo, who had a largely frustrating night in front of goal, fired high and wide of the target from inside the box.
Bale had no such trouble in front of goal, however, and completed his hat-trick just past the hour when he headed a Toni Kroos corner into the back of the net.
James Rodriguez‘s introduction brought huge cheers from the home supporters and Bale was also substituted 15 minutes from time, with Jese Rodriguez given the chance to impress after struggling for minutes under Rafael Benitez.
Deportivo, despite trailing 4-0, continued to commit players forward and Alberto brought a smart save from Navas in the 79th minute, before Ronaldo fizzed a low strike wide of the post down the other end.
Lucas and Ronaldo both should have scored in the final minutes, but neither could find the back of the net. Ronaldo’s night was summed up in the first minute of stoppage time when he could not slip two defenders inside the box, allowing Benzema to drive onto the scene and hammer his second into the top corner via the crossbar.
Zidane will have enjoyed his debut in the hot-seat, but the Frenchman will know that he has some subtle defensive issues to iron out if his team are to challenge for both La Liga and the Champions League this season.