MADRID (REUTERS) - Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice but had to leave the pitch with his face covered in blood as Real Madrid eased their domestic crisis by hammering Liga strugglers Deportivo La Coruna 7-1 at home on Sunday (Jan 21) to reclaim fourth place in the standings.
Real had lost two of their last three league games and got off on the wrong foot against relegation-threatened Deportivo when former Atletico Madrid forward Adrian Lopez put the visiting side ahead against the run of play in the 23rd minute.
The stumbling La Liga champions responded in emphatic fashion, however, and went on to record their biggest win of the season in all competitions with two goals apiece from Gareth Bale, Nacho Fernandez and Ronaldo as well as a long-range strike from Luka Modric.
Ronaldo was unable to continue playing after he was left with a bloodied face by the boot of Deportivo defender Fabian Schar as he struck his second goal, which took him level with Bale as Real's top scorer in the league with six strikes.
Real climbed back above Villarreal into fourth place on 35 points but are still far behind runaway leaders Barcelona, who top the standings with 51 points and can move 11 clear of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid if they beat Real Betis later on Sunday.
"The players needed a game like this," Real coach Zinedine Zidane told reporters.
"I don't know if much changed apart from the scoreline and that's the biggest difference. We played well against Villarreal (in our last match despite losing 1-0) and we were doing well when we were losing 1-0 today but we got the equaliser and I'm delighted with what we did in the rest of the game." Real began the season with a comfortable win away to Deportivo and could hardly have asked for better opponents than the struggling Galician side to get them out of their miserable run of form, even though Depor struck first.
In-form defender Nacho lashed Madrid level after playing a one-two with Marcelo and then Bale produced a brilliant curled finish off the post to put Real in front as halftime approached.
Bale stretched his side's advantage after the interval by leaping to head in Toni Kroos's corner, scoring a sixth goal in seven league starts which proved his persistent muscle injuries have not harmed his striking prowess.
Ronaldo had had little luck in front of goal at that point but quickly stole the headlines with two strikes in six minutes and departed the pitch using a mobile phone to examine his blood-drenched face.