Ronaldo scores 3 as Madrid thrashes Deportivo 8-2
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick and Gareth Bale and Javier Hernandez added braces as Real Madrid rolled past Deportivo La Coruna 8-2 to emphatically end its two-game losing skid in the Spanish league on Saturday.
After Madrid romped, defending champion Atletico Madrid slipped to a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo, while Granada quietly rose into a provisional share of second place with Atletico after a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao.
Atletico and Granada are one point behind Barcelona before the leader visits Levante on Sunday.
Ronaldo scored his first two goals on either side of James Rodriguez’s superb long strike to decide the match at Riazor Stadium before halftime, and send Madrid on its way to its biggest away goal total in league play.
Rodriguez then helped the Ballon d’Or holder score his eighth goal in as many matches across all competitions in the second half as Deportivo completely crumbled.
After back-to-back losses to Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid, Madrid rebounded by routing Basel 5-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.
This latest lopsided victory will go a long way to satisfying its fans, who turned on the team recently and directed jeers at captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
“After two losses we have scored 13 goals in two games, that’s a sign we have responded well,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
Madrid’s second win in four rounds left it two points behind Atletico, and three points behind Barcelona before its match.
Ronaldo combined physical prowess and fine touch for Madrid’s opening goal in the 22nd minute. He jumped and hung in the air before gently heading Alvaro Arbeloa’s cross over goalkeeper German Lux.
Four minutes later, Lux could only watch again as Rodriguez curled an exquisite left-foot shot from outside the area over his head and just inside the corner of the goal.
Helpless to stop Madrid’s first two goals, Lux was largely to blame for the third. The goalie rashly rushed out of his area when Karim Benzema ran onto Marcelo’s long pass, even though two defenders were in place to dispute the ball. His mistake left Ronaldo alone to get his second in the 41st.
“We have shown the talent we have in attack,” Ancelotti said. “We have a phenomenal player and others with a lot of talent. They looked for one another and that’s what stood out.”
Deportivo’s Haris Medunjanin pulled one back from the penalty spot after Sergio Ramos used his hand to block Isaac Cuenca’s header in the 51st.
But Marcelo spotted Bale’s run across the box and the Welshman used one touch to turn the ball beyond Lux, who grazed it but not enough to stop it from going in off the post in the 66th.
Bale’s second goal was similar, except this time it was substitute Francisco “Isco” Alarcon who slipped the ball through for Bale to lift over Lux in the 74th.
Ronaldo fired in his third in the 78th after Rodriguez stole the ball and set him up. Jose “Toche” Verdu scored a header for the hosts 10 minutes later.
Hernandez went on for Bale in the 75th and the striker scored in the 88th with a long strike for his first goal since arriving this offseason from Manchester United. He added another goal in stoppage time against a ravaged defense.
Madrid’s eight goals were well taken, but none compared to Pedro Hernandez’s exquisite score to give Celta the lead in the 19th minute at Atletico.
With Diego Godin draped all over him, the Chilean forward used a flick of his left heel with his back to the goal and the ball out of sight to redirect a long pass beyond stunned goalkeeper Miguel Moya.
Atletico struck back with goals by center backs Miranda and Godin from set-pieces in the 31st and 41st. But Celta substitute Manuel “Nolito” Agudo converted a penalty in the 53rd after Miranda fouled Carles Planas, to secure the draw.
Granada forward Jhon Cordoba scored the winner in the 40th minute at Sam Mames after Bilbao’s Ander Iturraspe lost the ball. Bilbao’s defeat came three days after the Basque side was held to 0-0 at home by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
Also, Sergio “Duda” Barbosa scored a free kick in stoppage time to secure Malaga’s 2-2 draw at Espanyol.
Christian Stuani scored a header in the 88th to put Espanyol on the cusp of victory, only for it to remain winless under new coach Sergio Gonzalez.