Zinedine Zidane enjoyed a successful debut as Real Madrid manager with a 5-0 victory over Deportivo on Saturday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid.
Gareth Bale scored a hat trick, No 49, 50 and 51 of his so-far 108-game career for Madrid, while Karim Benzema added in brace goals in a straightforward win for Los Blancos.
Zidane gave little-used Isco a start in his first match in charge, as the former Málaga man joined Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the midfield. Up top it was the normal attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, while in defense Dani Caravjal got the nod and joined Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo in front of goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Zidane’s No 5 shirt is already starting to sell out in the club shop and the feel-good factor swept around the stadium and through the team from the first whistle. There were no more jeers and even missed opportunities were applauded with the players running back as fast as they were running forward – that had not been happening in recent weeks.
Bale was at the heart of everything whipping in two crosses from the right in the first ten minutes but popping up through the middle where he blocked the goalkeeper’s view for the first goal and headed in the second.
It was on the quarter-hour that Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot was deflected out for a corner and when Toni Kroos’ out-swinging kick was headed out and driven back into the area by Ramos, Benzema flicked it past German Lux in the Deportivo goal.
The keeper was soon sprinting out to confront the linesman who had not raised his flag despite Bale being in an offside position and blocking his view of Benzema. It was the Frenchman’s 100th goal for Real Madrid in La Liga and it was the stroke of luck that Zidane needed.
Bale’s next contribution was to head in Dani Carvajal’s cross, whipped back from the right byline, past Lux. No one has scored more headers in the top leagues throughout Europe – a point worth remembering when Bale is questioned for staking his claim for that central position.
In the first half he was through the middle, down the right, and most importantly at the heart of all of Real Madrid’s best football.
Two crosses, one clipped in for Ronaldo to head against the post and the second floated to Benzema at the back post, were his final contributions to the first 45 minutes as Real Madrid were applauded off at the break.
Soon the home supporters were signing his name – for perhaps the first time since he signed two and a half season’s ago – when he side-footed the third crisply past Lux from Ronaldo’s cross. His third was a header from another Kroos corner.
He was taken off with 16 minutes left but only to receive an ovation from the home supporters. The game was won and he had played a huge part in that. Zidane had his three points from his first game in charge. He left the technical area and took shelter from the rain and see out the last 15 minutes on the bench with his three-goal striker.
They both watched Benzema smash in the fifth after Ronaldo and Jese had counter-attacked and the loose ball had run to the Frenchman to gleefully rifle home to complete the rout.