A much-changed Real Madrid had too much for Deportivo La Coruna as they ran out 6-2 winners at Riazor to go level with leaders Barcelona.
James Rodriguez scored a goal in each half as Real Madrid responded to Barcelona pressure by going level with their rivals at the top of LaLiga thanks to a commanding 6-2 win over Deportivo La Coruna.
Zinedine Zidane was unmoved from his recent rotation policy and made nine changes to the side beaten in dramatic circumstances by a Lionel Messi-inspired Barca on Sunday.
Taking to the field after Barcelona thumped basement boys Osasuna 7-1, Madrid tore into Depor and Alvaro Morata scored inside the first minute.
James made it two within a quarter of an hour and Lucas Vazquez settled any doubts over the destination of the points on the stroke of half-time after Florin Andone briefly gave Deportivo hope.
Isco was their main tormentor throughout and got in on the act after James tapped in his second
Joselu gained a measure of consolation for Depor – who are still not completely safe from relegation trouble – but fellow substitute Casemiro followed up his goal against Barca to complete the rout.
The Clasico rivals are locked together on 78 points at the summit, although Madrid retain a game in hand and, with the news of Barcelona’s resounding victory probably still ringing in their ears, they hit the front after 54 seconds at Riazor.
Isco slotted a deft pass into the area with the outside of his foot and Morata arrived to gleefully smash past German Lux at his near post.
An unused substitute in El Clasico despite his match-winning heroics at Sporting Gijon in Madrid’s previous match, Isco was again in a menacing mood and the playmaker and Marco Asensio were both allowed to unleash shots from outside the area against the post before Madrid doubled their advantage.
Deportivo 2️⃣-6️⃣ Real Madrid
— Real Madrid C. F. (@realmadrid) April 26, 2017
Mateo Kovacic advanced largely unchallenged from the near the Madrid box to halfway and fed James, who eased towards the area, fed Lucas and remained unmarked as he fired home the return cross.
Those slack defensive efforts brought understandable whistles from the Riazor faithful and Morata had a third incorrectly ruled out for offside against Marcelo.
Lux then produced close-range heroics to deny Lucas and Morata, and Depor had an unforeseen lifeline 10 minutes before the break.
Gael Kakuta’s dreadfully mishit volley fell kindly for Andone to convert and the Romania striker might have smuggled an equaliser when Kiko Casillas fumbled a corner with Madrid suddenly rattled.
Isco was predictably to the fore when Madrid restored their two-goal advantage in the 44th minute – twisting, turning and spinning his way through increasingly desperate challenges to find Marcelo, who laid on the finish for Lucas.
Lux appeared to be groggy after blocking Morata’s earlier shot with his face and made way at half-time for Przemyslaw Tyton, who at least enjoyed a quieter opening to the second period than his colleague did in the first.
Asensio and Lucas combined in the break for the latter to flash wide before the hour, while another mazy foray from Isco ended with Tyton tipping behind.
It was Madrid midfielder Kovacic’s turn to unfurl the trickery in the 64th minute, with Depor scrambling the danger clear after Marcelo teed up James.
The Colombia star would have his second when Morata sprung the offside trap, rounded Tyton and cut back to give his team-mate a simple finish.
Deportivo boss Pepe Mel cut a frustrated figure on the touchline and his mood was not helped when the linesman flagged to deny substitute Joselu a 73rd-minute consolation.
The one-time Madrid B striker did link tidily with Andone to score six minutes from time, but, by that stage, Isco had finally found himself on the end of a Madrid move to sweep into the bottom corner.
Casemiro’s drive wrapped things up as it squirmed through Tyton, Zidane’s scratch side having put Madrid’s title ambitions firmly back on track.