MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid had to come from behind as second-half goals from Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain handed them a hard-fought 2-1 at relegation threatened Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.
The hosts dominated the first period and deservedly went in front when Riki fired in at Diego Lopez's near post on 31 minutes.
However, Deportivo were left to rue a number of chances to extend their lead when Kaka equalised with a fine curling effort 17 minutes from time and Higuain sealed the comeback 15 minutes later with an easy finish after brilliant build-up play from Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Madrid boss Jose Mourinho had made his intentions clear ahead of Tuesday's Spanish Cup semi-final with Barcelona as he left Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira on the bench in a side that included seven changes from last weekend's 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano.
"We have a big squad and the manager plays who he thinks is best for each game," Higuain told Gol TV.
"The important thing is to win and now think about Tuesday. We have great desire and hope for the games coming up, we know that in a week we will be playing for the Cup and the Champions League." Real's lack of continuity was drastically shown up in an awful first-half display.
Angel Di Maria's free-kick that Daniel Aranzubia turned wide was the only real action of an uneventful first quarter, but Deportivo then started to take control with Riki and Pizzi a constant menace to the Madrid defence.
Pizzi went close twice in two minutes as he volleyed over and then bent a wonderful effort inches past Lopez's left-hand post.
Moments later though his strike partner did open the scoring as he was played in Pizzi on the left side of the box and fired a rasping effort towards goal that Lopez, despite the power on the shot, will have been disappointed to see go in at his near post.
Pizzi was then desperately unlucky not to make it 2-0 as he jinked past Pepe and Alvaro Arbeloa before dinking a shot over Lopez which was cleared off the line by Marcelo.
Riki should also have doubled his tally when he fired wide when clean through on Lopez and the Madrid keeper was then forced into a fine save from Bruno Gama's rising drive.
However, for all their dominance Deportivo nearly surrendered their lead seconds before half-time as Aranzubia had to race off his line to prevent Jose Maria Callejon levelling in the last action of the half.
The visitors reacted after the break and after they had two penalty claims for handball turned down, Mourinho sent on Ronaldo, Khedira and Ozil in place of Marcelo, Luka Modric and Michael Essien.
Even with their stars on the field though the champions still weren't creating a huge amount until a moment of brilliance from Kaka brought them level.
The Brazilian received the ball 20 yards from goal and curled a wonderful strike into Aranzubia's left-hand corner.
Ronaldo then twice came agonisingly close with 12 minutes to go as Aranzubia somehow got a toe to his goalbound effort from a narrow angle before he glanced a header just wide of the far post.
However, the Portuguese did have a hand in the winner when it arrived two minutes from time as he was found by a wonderful pass from Kaka and squared for Higuain to apply the simplest of finishes.
The action didn't end there though as Di Maria was sent-off in stoppage time as he was shown two yellow cards in barely 20 seconds for failing to allow Deportivo to take a free-kick.