Gareth Bale silenced his Real Madrid critics by scoring his side’s first goal of the season for the third consecutive year as they eased to a 3-0 win over Deportivo.
The Welshman also made the third in a comfortable victory that also saw Casemiro and Toni Kroos get on the scoresheet in a win achieved despite a late Sergio Ramos red card.
Bale started the game with some suggesting the pressure was on for him to keep his place. He had failed to score in pre-season and with young forward Marco Asensio’s form grabbing everyone’s attention there have been calls to relegate him to the bench in favour of the 21-year-old, but he started the game and stepped up to open Madrid’s account for the 2017-18 season, just as he had done in 2016 and 2015.
Deportivo had started the better of the two teams and Florin Andon twice went close but any team not taking their chances this season will be punished against Real Madrid and they took the lead on 20 minutes.
Luka Modric shot from the edge of the area and when the effort was spilled by keeper Ruben Martinez Madrid had two chances to finish. First Karim Benzema tried and failed to convert and when the ball ran to Bale he swept it home.
He had not scored since February but after 392 minutes of football – largely pre-season friendlies – he had delivered. The goal knocked Deportivo clean out of their stride.
Madrid started playing their football and a 44-pass move lead to the second goal. It was Isco who found Marcelo out on the left and when he crossed it was holding midfielder Casemiro who popped up in the six-yard box to convert the second goal. He has now scored three goals in Real Madrid’s last five games. He shows more than any other player that anyone in Zinedine Zidane’s team can find the net.
Another unlikely scorer would get the third but before that Real Madrid were fortunate not to go down to ten men. There was an eight-man round of pushing and shoving and Ramos pushed Fabian Schär in the face. It should have been red but the Spain defender was booked along with Schär. It wasn’t long before red became yellow.
It was a good job for Real Madrid that Ramos stayed on for a while longer because he cleared off the line as Deportivo pushed forward. Bruno Gama crossed and Andone shot but Ramos was there to make sure the ball ended up back I the arms of Navas.
Guilherme dos Santos Torres hit the frame of the goal for the home side and their tails were up but Kroos ended the match as a contest when once again Madrid passed their way around Deportivo’s static defence and he applied the finish. Benzema played a pass through to Isco and he fed Bale. The Welshman crossed intelligently from the left to the German who arrived on time to drive it home.
The assist capped a fine performance from Bale and he stayed on as man of the moment Asensio entered the fray on 66 minutes replacing Isco.
Dani Carvajal brought down Gama with a minute left but Andone blew the chance to narrow the margin with Navas turning the kick away for a corner.
Ramos ruined an otherwise perfect night when he got sent-off on 91 minutes. He raised his arm to Borja Valle, the linesman raised his flag and the referee raised the second yellow card and then the red.