Ronaldo scores from spot in winning debut

By Mark Carter

Real Madrid

Real Madrid 3 – 2 Deportivo La Coruna

The second era of Los Galacticos began in winning fashion as Real secured a scrappy 3-2 victory in front of 78,000 expectant fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, was presented to the crowd to partake in an honorary kick-off prior to the game and the home side started at a pace fitting of the World and Olympic champion, as Kaka was set free inside the area to drill an effort just wide of the far post inside 50 seconds.

Unfortunately, the pace slowed from then on.

Real fielded a side composed of seven new arrivals and it showed. Xabi Alonso – sitting very deep in the midfield – struggled to get into the game and Karim Benzema failed to touch the ball until the 26th minute when he became instrumental in Real’s opener.

Kaka slid an incisive ball through the legs of an opposing defender into the French striker who saw his shot deflect off Deportivo keeper Aranzubia’s inner thigh onto the post and into the path of Raul to duly poke the ball home.

The goal raised the home side’s tempo and just two minutes later Ronaldo headed just over from Alonso’s free-kick.

However, Real left themselves open at the back and former Madrid man Riki did not make the same mistake and scored the equalizer on the 30 minute-mark with a free-header five yards out from Juca’s whipped-in dead-ball.

It didn’t take Los Blancos long to regain their advantage.

Raul sprung the offside trap to latch onto Diarra’s through pass inside the box and was subsequently brought down by Aranzubia. To the jubilation of the crowd, £80 million man Ronaldo placed the resulting spot kick powerfully into the bottom corner and out of the reach of the goalkeeper.

The action continued as Ronaldo darted between two defenders and whipped-in a ball to Raul, who tamely struck straight at the goalkeeper from close range.

Seconds later, Real centre-half Garay then saw his header deflect just over from Alonso’s corner kick in what was a strong period of pressure from the home side prior to the half-time whistle.

Deportivo burst out of the box in the second-half and grabbed another equalizer on 46 minutes.

Mexican international Guardado squared the ball to Valeron inside the area and the veteran captain left Real goalkeeper Casillas standing as he drilled home his low effort into the corner.

Ronaldo – eager to impress on his debut – struck a long-range left foot shot just past the post as the game entered a scrappy period. Real suffered from a distinct lack of shape in their formation and it was now the turn of Kaka to prove peripheral.

Deportivo should have taken the lead on 56 minutes as Valeron – only yards out – hit a side foot volley horribly wide after more abject Madrid defending.

Three minutes later, former Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth man Lassana Diarra – known simply as ‘Lass’ in Spain – hit Real’s winner.

The Frenchman claimed his first goal for Los Blancos in style with a 20-yard piledriver that flew into the bottom corner and sent the home fans into raptures.

Real were in the ascendency and came close to a fourth goal. Alonso’s long-distance strike was spilled by Aranzubia straight into the path of Benzema, but the £40 million summer-signing missed glaringly as his shot hit the crossbar.

Ronaldo made several mazy runs throughout the game and almost bagged his brace after sprinting past the Deportivo defence and into space just yards from goal only to see his near-post shot saved.

New Real coach Manuel Pellegrini will be content with the win, but not with his side’s defending and will be looking for much greater stability at the back as the team gels in the coming weeks.

Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Albiol, Garay, Marcelo, Alonso, Lass, Raul (Granero, 62), Kaka (Guti, 82), Ronaldo, Benzema (Higuain, 72)

Deportivo: Aranzubia, Filipe, Ze Castro, Lopo, Laure, Juca, Rodriguez, Guardado, Valeron (Perez, 69), Alvarez (Lafita, 64), Riki (Mista, 72)

Man of the Match: Raul – Great anticipation for the opening goal and his clever run drew the foul for Real’s penalty.

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