Real Madrid 4 Deportivo La Coruna 0: Beckham return fires renaissance for Real

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The Independent Football

In Britain it was the weekend for putting the clocks forward but in Spain Real Madrid turned them back about two months with a display of the free-flowing attacking football they were playing before they were knocked out of the Champions' League by Arsenal and their season imploded on all fronts.

Their coach, Juan Ramon Lopez Caro, described his side's performance at the Bernabeu as "spectacular", and the improvement was in large part due to the recall of David Beckham, who will rue the fact that the Real renaissance has come too late to earn them anything more than a likely second place in La Liga. He started the game after last week's shock of being named among the substitutes and was at the heart of most of Real's best football, creating two of their four goals.

It was his free-kick that brought the breakthrough on nine minutes. Cicinho was brought down wide on the right, and the Brazilian full-back rolled the ball to Beckham who whipped in a cross that Depor defender Hector Berenguel turned past his own keeper.

Such is the points difference between Real and the runaway leaders, Barcelona, that the goal failed to spark the home team into life. When Robinho tricked his way to the byline there were no white shirts in the area for the winger to aim at. But the Brazilian continued to take the game to Deportivo and a minute later his magic doubled Real's advantage. He cleverly back-heeled for Roberto Carlos, who crossed for Ronaldo to score.

In the second period Real continued to show glimpses of the slick football they played at the turn of the year and Beckham crosses created three clear-cut chances. He set up Robinho on the edge of the penalty area only for the Brazilian to miscontrol. He then crossed for the same player to blaze over and then set up Ronaldo who had his shot turned around the post.

With 20 minutes left Beckham did engineer the third with a clever free-kick clipped to the edge of the six-yard box which was met by Sergio Ramos, whose powerful header beat Molina at his far post.

Beckham was desperate to get on the score sheet himself and lined-up to take a late free-kick on the edge of the box after a foul on Cicinho. But midfielder Julio Baptista took the kick and curled it perfectly into Molina's top right-hand corner for the fourth to deny Beckham a deserved goal.

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Cicinho, Sergio Ramos, Raul Bravo, Roberto Carlos; Guti, (Gravesen, 81) Julio Baptista; Beckham, Zidane (Raul, 73), Robinho; Ronaldo (Cassano, 77). Substitutes not used: Diego Lopez, Salgado, Pavon, Diogo.

Deportivo La Coruña (4-2-3-1): Molina; Hector, Cesar, Coloccini, Capdevila; Sergio (Gallardo, 45), Duscher (Manuel Pablo, 74); Victor, Lago, Munitis (De Guzman, 45); Tristan. Substitutes not used: Dani, Ruben, Xisco.

Referee: A Ibañez.