For the 14th year in a row Real Madrid were left licking their wounds on their return from the rugged coasts of Galicia as they were battered into submission by a brief but powerful storm from a rejuvenated Deportivo La Coruña in a game marred by racism.
The contest at the Riazor was decided all too soon with Real conceding two goals in the opening 12 minutes as they were swamped by an irresistible wave of attacks from the locals. However, the match was soured by Depor fans making monkey noises in the direction of the Real full-back Roberto Carlos. The referee stopped the game after 15 minutes while an announcement was made asking fans to stop. What makes the behaviour of the Deportivo supporters more bizarre is that their veteran Brazilian midfielder Mauro Silva was given a standing ovation when he left the field in the 54th minute.
Depor should, have won even more convincingly, but in the end they were more than content to control the game and leave a listless Madrid to mull over the fact that their only remaining realistic hope of winning a trophy this season lies with the Champions' League.
With the league leaders, Barcelona, being held to a 1-1 draw by Numancia at a freezing Soria, Real had a chance to narrow the gap at the top to just five points, but instead they ended the night eight behind their rivals after their second league defeat in a row.
There was little cheer either for David Beckham and Michael Owen. Beckham, who has turned in some neat performances in recent matches, gave an off-colour display and was off target with his three free-kick attempts. Owen struggled for service once again and had little effect on the game as he was forced to drop deep in search of the ball.
Depor, who had only won three previous matches at home this season, flooded forward and it came as little surprise when they took the lead after a slickly worked passing move in the eighth minute enabled the striker Albert Luque to fire past Iker Casillas.
Real barely had time to draw breath before they found themselves 2-0 down, this time the centre-back Francisco Pavon ballooned a header over Casillas and into his own net after Victor crossed from the right.
Depor were prevented from adding a third by two fine saves from Casillas, first when he tipped a lob from Victor over the bar and then when he turned a Diego Tristan shot away with his foot after some great interplay on the edge of the area.
But Real suffered a further setback when Zinedine Zidane was forced off with a groin injury before the half hour was up and they never looked like staging a comeback as they struggled to get past Mauro Silva in the centre of midfield.
Goals: Luque 8 (1-0), Pavon 12og (2-0).
Deportivo La Coruña (4-2-3-1): Munua; Manuel Pablo, Andrade, Coloccini (Romero, 78), Capdevila; Silva (Scaloni, 55), Sergio; Victor, Valeron, Luque (Fran, 73); Tristan. Substitutes not used: Mallo (gk), Amo, Acuña, Munitis.
Real Madrid (4-4-2): Casillas; Bravo (Palencia, 57), Pavon, Samuel, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Gravesen, Zidane (Solari, 28), Figo; Owen, Portillo (Celades, 73) Substitutes not used: Cesar (gk), Mejia, Borja, Jurado.
Referee: J Losantos Omar.
Man of the match: Silva.
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