23 February 2013
Real Madrid came from behind against Deportivo at the Riazor stadium. The Whites headed to the dressing room at half time a goal behind after Riki scored in the thirty-fifth minute, but in the second half, and after a triple substitution where Mourinho brought on Ronaldo, Khedira and Özil in the fifty-seventh minute, Deportivo disappeared and the sombre visiting side came to the party. Kaká, equalising in the seventy-third minute, and Higuaín, in the eighty-eighth, sealed the deserved victory based on possession and the chances Madrid had in the second half. In extra time Di María was sent off after being shown two yellow cards in the same move. A morale boost before ten days that sees the team play two Clásicos in a row, in the Copa and the other in La Liga, and the second leg of the last-sixteen match in the Champions League at Old Trafford.
Real Madrid returned to the Riazor stadium two years after their most recent with the aim of making it three consecutive victories in La Liga. The first minutes of the match appeared to suggest that the Whites would be successful. In fact, the visitors had most of the possession of the ball, and the Whites wanted to surprise the Galician team with long balls behind their defenders. Callejón and Di María both tried to score in this manner, but the clearance by Aranzubia in the ninth minute and the misjudged control of the Argentine in the eleventh minute prevented the scoreboard from turning over. The first shot on goal by Madrid came in the fourth minute after a foul that was taken by the Argentine international. The home side’s goalkeeper was at full stretch to clear the ball for a corner.
From then on the game became complicated and a lack of accuracy in attempts on goal took centre stage. Neither of the teams were accurate in front of goal, although it was Deportivo who made the most of one of the few dangerous moves that took place in the match up until then. Pizzi made the assist and Riki, somewhat off balance, surprised Diego López with a powerful shot in the thirty-fifth minute. 55 minutes remained to turn the score around and the Whites did not waste any time. They had three chances before half time. The shot by Di María in the thirty-sixth minute was saved by Aranzubia, the attempt by Kaká after a precise one-two with Higuaín in the thirty-seventh minute was off target and Callejón was unable to beat the home side’s goalkeeper in a one-on-one in the forty-fourth minute. Deportivo could have extended their lead in another counterattack, but Marcelo cleared off the line with his head in the fortieth minute.
Ronaldo and Kaká led the comeback
Real Madrid came out after the break ready to change the script. The Whites had their best moments of the match, although the deserved goal remained elusive. In the first ten minutes they had three clear opportunities, all of which started on the left wing. In the first, the defender Kaka came out to meet Callejón, who was waiting in the goal mouth for a final pass by Higuaín in the forty-eight minute. Three minutes later, the Real Madrid reserve player was again a protagonist. His header into from a Kaká cross went centimetres wide of the goal defended by Aranzubia. Marcelo could have equalised the clash in the third chance, but his shot was deflected by one of the home side’s defenders in the fifty-first minute.
Mourinho then decided to make changes to him team and brought on Ronaldo, Khedira and Özil for Modric, Marcelo and Essien at the same time. The Whites changed to defend with only three players and their desire for victory was evident. Deportivo disappeared from the pitch and could only double their efforts to shake off the visiting side’s dominance. It seemed as though the goal was not far away. And such was the case. A pass to Kaká in the penalty arc, who lifted his head and shot the ball so ferociously that there was nothing that Aranzubia could do in the seventy-third minute. 1-1 and more than fifteen minutes to go for the win.
It would not be due to a lack of chances. Cristiano Ronaldo took charge of the team and could have put them ahead in two consecutive moves. In the first, and a flagship move, he dribbled past two opponents in the seventy-eight minute, but as he was falling slightly, was unable to beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one. In the second move, the clearer of the two chances, a minute later, his was off target with a header after a pinpoint cross by Di María. The Portuguese would be decisive with two minutes of the match to go. An excellent pass by Kaká into the box and the Portuguese touched the ball just enough so that today’s captain, Higuaín, only had to push it into the goal to give his team victory. In added time, Di María was sent off for being show two yellow cards in the same move. A deserved come back and a boost to morale before ten days in which the team play two Clásicos in a row, one in the Copa and the other in La Liga, and the second leg of the last-sixteen match of the Champions League at Old Trafford.