Madrid: Zinedine Zidane's reign as Real Madrid boss got off to a flying start as Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday. Victory took Madrid back to within two points of Barcelona.
Gareth Bale (left) celebrates a goal with Cristiano Ronaldo
Zidane was given a hero's welcome after replacing the sacked Rafael Benitez earlier in the week and Madrid were rarely troubled after Karim Benzema gave the hosts the lead 15 minutes in. Bale then took centre stage with his second hat-trick in four games before Benzema smashed home the fifth in stoppage time.
Despite awful weather conditions in the Spanish capital, Madrid were cheered on by a noticeably more enthused fan base than in Benitez's ill-fated seven-month spell as Zidane's name was chanted even before kick-off.
Benzema got the first goal of the Zidane reign by flicking the ball home from close range.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane during the La Liga tie against Deportivo la Coruna. Pics/AFP
Bale stooped to head home the second shortly after, and ended any hopes of a Deportivo fight back when he expertly slotted home Cristiano Ronaldo's low cross four minutes after the break.
The Welshman met Toni Kroos' corner with another towering header to complete his hat-trick before Benzema crashed home a loose ball off the underside of the bar to round off the scoring.
Zidane hailed Bale's effort. "I am happy with his contribution. It isn't easy to score three goals and we hope he continues like that," said Zidane.