Ruud, Raul and Robinho retain Real's lead
Real Madrid endured some nervous moments but hung on to their Spanish league lead and retained their 100 per cent home record this season with a 3-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
Goals by Ruud van Nistelrooy, club captain Raul Gonzalez and Robinho produced a slightly flattering scoreline but moved the Spanish giants up to 22 points from their nine games.
"The arrival of Raul midway through the second half was decisive. It woke us up and helped us get the victory," reflected Real coach Bernd Schuster, with Real drawing 1-1 at that point.
Deportivo made a dream start just over a minute into the game when Xisco Jimenez put the visitors ahead with a right foot shot from 10 yards out.
Real had only themselves to blame after Deportivo goalkeeper Dudu Aouate sent a huge punt forward and the Madrid defenders left Sergio Gonzalez free to pull the ball back to the unmarked Xisco.
"The truth is, I wanted to stop Real conceding this type of goal this season. This is something that has got to be sorted out," added Schuster, hinting at his side's lack of concentration at the start.
However, Real were back on level terms barely five minutes later when Ruud van Nistelrooy equalized from the penalty spot after the Dutchman had his legs swept away from under him by Mexican midfielder Jose Guardado.
Having recovered from the early blow, Real then went on the offensive with Sergio Ramos roaming forward to have two good chances only thwarted by the acrobatic Aouate.
Deportivo didn't throw in the though and came out fighting after the break with Juan Rodriguez and Xisco both having opportunities early in the second half.
However, the introduction of the inspirational Raul after 65 minutes galvanised Real.
Mid-week two-goal hero Robinho hit the crossbar with 20 minutes to go before Raul finally gave the reigning Spanish champions the lead after 78 minutes, latching on to an inch-perfect pass by Jose Maria Gutierrez.
Deportivo endured further misery two minutes later when Sergio was sent off for his second yellow card and Robinho then got his first goal this season in the league right at the end of regulation time.
Barcelona kept up the pressure on Real, and moved up to second place ahead of Sunday's late game between Sevilla and Valencia, with a 2-0 win over Almeria.
Thierry Henry opened the scoring after 37 minutes but can consider himself a little lucky to have got his fourth goal of season.
Giovanni Dos Santos took the ball into the Almeria area only for their goalkeeper David Cobeno to smother the Mexican teenager's shot, but the ball spun loose to the feet of Henry who was presented with an open goal.
Lionel Messi then got Barca's second from the penalty spot nine minutes from time after Bruno Saltor was controversially adjudged to have fouled Dos Santos, although many pundits will think his fall was caused by the wet pitch.
Atletico Madrid beat win-less bottom club Levante 1-0 to move up to fifth place.
Diego Forlan put Atletico ahead after 36 minutes but he will be thanking his team mate Kun Aguero for exquisite service after the Argentine striker chested down a long Ze Castro pass before laying the ball off for Forlan.
Atletico overwhelmed the struggling Valencia-based side in the second half but Pablo Ibanez, Raul Garcia and Jose Antonio Reyes were all denied by a brilliant display from Levante goalkeeper Marco Storari.
Real Zaragoza put behind them the internal turmoil of the last week to inflict a 4-1 thrashing on Villarreal, who started the weekedn in second place.
Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira opened the scoring his fifth goal of the season after 36 minutes when he headed home an Alberto Zapater cross.
Oscar Serrano, Diego Milito and Sergio Garcia then put Zaragoza further ahead in the second half before Villarreal's French playmaker Robert Pires got a consolation goal nine minutes from time.