Helped by an Isco finish and a Karim Benzema chip-in, first-place Real Madrid were able to beat mid-table Deportivo La Coruña, 2-0, in a La Liga match at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
Isco got Real Madrid on the board with a curling right-footed shot from just inside the box in the 22nd minute. The attacking midfielder's shot was well-placed in the bottom right corner past the hands of Deportivo keeper Fabricio and well-earned after Los Blancos barely missed a few early chances.
Deportivo had a few early chances of their own that were squandered with shots over the bar and wide of the frame. Cristiano Ronaldo had the first real close call of the match, however. The just-turned-30-year-old hit a shot in the 11th minute that rattled off the Deportivo crossbar and almost dipped behind the goal line before it bounced away. Attacker Gareth Bale added a near-goal in the 18th minute that was quite similar to Ronaldo’s. The Welshman rocketed a shot off the crossbar from outside the box with incredible power.
The first half continued to belong mostly to Real Madrid, who had more of the possession and more scoring chances in the first 45 minutes. If two shots from Carlo Ancelotti's side that hit off the bar had been just a few inches lower, it could have been a first-half drubbing. The second half was much closer and it looked like Deportivo might find an equalizer at times. The Madrid defense had to make some great recoveries to hold the lead. Then Los Blancos extended it to 2-0.
The second goal came on a creative assist from Ronaldo, who tapped a nicely weighted pass to a streaking Benzema, who chipped the ball over Fabricio and into the back of the net in the 73rd minute. Benzema used the clever finish to put Real Madrid up 2-0 and solidify a victory.
Ronaldo, the Ballon d’Or winner and among the most visible athletes in the world, has been in the middle of a bit of controversy lately, with his lackluster form and his La Liga future in slight doubt. The assist and team win might help turn fan favor in his direction.
Real Madrid will move on to play at Schalke 04 in a Champions League match on Feb. 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET. Deportivo’s next match will be a league match at Celta Vigo on Feb. 21.