Ronaldo hits the heights as Real Madrid show they're ready for Barcelona

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By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor

Three – and quite easy. Cristiano Ronaldo began the fightback as Real Madrid surprisingly fell behind at home to Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday, heading home a second after Angel Di Maria had made it 2-1 and rounding off the scoring late on with another spot kick to ensure a storming success for Jose Mourinho’s men.

A week before the Clasico, Madrid look ready – and so does Ronaldo.

Mourinho’s men may be eight points adrift of their eternal enemies in the race for La Liga, but they approach next weekend’s Clasico clash very much on the ascendancy. And their Portuguese forward was in buoyant mood, saying: “We have won at Camp Nou before.”

Indeed, last season’s 2-1 win in April all but ensured that the title would be heading back to the Bernabeu and not remaining in Catalunya for a fourth straight season. And Madrid also got the better of Barca over two legs in the Spanish Supercopa at the start of the current campaign.

Perhaps even more importantly for Madrid, they appear to have confined their recent problems to the past: Sergio Ramos started again after he was left out against Manchester City (albeit at right-back), Kaka returned from his period in the wilderness to play the second half, and a recently riled Ronaldo ruled the roost with three goals in an ultimately impressive victory.

Things did not start as planned for Madrid as Riki waltzed past Raphael Varane as if he wasn’t there to slot home the opener. But Ronaldo converted from the spot after Manuel Pablo upended Di Maria and the Argentine added the second himself following a wonderful pass by Luka Modric – included in the Xabi Alonso role instead of the benched Basque.

Alonso was of course being rested ahead of the Champions League clash against Ajax and the Clasico next weekend, but emerged from the sidelines to set up Pepe for 4-1, after Ronaldo rose to head home the third. And the former Manchester United forward completed the rout late on with another penalty after Evaldo had handled.

Camp Nou will represent an altogether different test, particularly given Barca’s unflappable form so far in La Liga, but on this evidence Real look ready. And perhaps just as importantly for Mourinho’s men, so too does Ronaldo.
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10 2012
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