Superman Sergio Ramos once again played the role of hero with a late header to give Real Madrid a comeback 3-2 win over Deportivo on Saturday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
The centre-back struck in the 92nd minute to cap off a late two-goal rally that not only stretched Real’s unbeaten run to 35 matches but restored Los Blancos’ six-point advantage atop the La Liga table. In addition to Ramos’ goal, Real got scores from Alvaro Morata and Mariano, which sandwiched a pair of Joselu goals in a span of two minutes.
Deportivo will be left wondering exactly how they failed to come away with a result, yet Real, for all their problems in using a heavily rotated squad, still summoned the strength and will to overcome the Galician visitors.
Manager Zinedine Zidane surprised everyone by making a whopping eight changes from the side that took the pitch last week in the Clasico. Of note, not a single member of Real’s vaunted ‘BBC’ was in the line-up, a rarity especially considering Cristiano Ronaldo’s fondness to play every minute. In their place was James, Marco Asensio and Alvaro Morata. The midfield had a bit more of a familiar look with Toni Kroos back in the mix with Casemiro and Isco, while Pepe enjoyed a return at centre-back and reserve full-backs Danilo and Nacho also got nods.
It was a tepid start from both teams, as the first chance did not come until after the first quarter-hour. James and Morata had a good look at a curling cross from Asensio from the right, but the loose ball was scooped up by Deportivo goalkeeper Tyton. That was followed by a dipping free kick from Sergio Ramos after Celso Borges had taken down Casemiro just outside the area, but the Andalusian center-back fired just over the crossbar.
Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas was hardly troubled until right before the half-hour mark, and he had to be alert to deny his fellow Costa Rican, Borges, whose deft redirection almost slipped inside the near post. Seconds later James found himself alone with Tyton bailed failed to beat the Polish stopper.
Borges again threatened the Real goal and was terribly unlucky with a header that had Navas beat but it struck the post. The ensuing rebound then rolled right over the head of the waiting Guilherme, who was all alone a yard in front of goal but simply not in position to nod it home.