Kaka rescues Madrid against Deportivo
BARCELONA, Spain (AP)
Kaka scored his first goal in the Spanish league this season and cued Gonzalo Higuain's late winner as Real Madrid won 2-1 at last-place Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday just three days before its critical trip to Camp Nou.
Kaka was in the starting lineup only because coach Jose Mourinho rested several players for the Copa del Rey semifinal at Barcelona on Tuesday with the tie poised at 1-1.
The move almost backfired when Ivan ''Riki'' Sanchez took a well-struck goal in the 32nd minute to open for the hosts.
Ronaldo went on for Madrid in the 57th, but it fell to the little-used Kaka to level in the 73rd with an exquisite strike reminiscent of his glory days at AC Milan.
Kaka then played Ronaldo clear in the 88th for the Portugal forward to cross to the unmarked Higuain who just had to push the ball home to prevent Madrid from slipping up again on the road.
League leader Barcelona enjoys a 13-point gap over third-place Madrid before its game against Sevilla later.
After Tuesday's decisive Copa del Rey match, Madrid will host Barcelona in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Desperate for a win in the home debut of Fernando Vazquez, its third coach in this strife-filled season, Deportivo outplayed Madrid in all facets during the first 45 minutes.
But after leaving Madrid without a shot between the posts until Jose Callejon's try in the final seconds of the first half, even Deportivo's best effort wasn't enough compared to Madrid's talent and two moments of inspiration from Kaka.
The former world player of the year came through late when Deportivo's legs had grown heavy to give Madrid just its second win at Riazor Stadium in 20 years.
Riki took Deportivo's deserved goal when he blasted the ball between the upright and `keeper Diego Lopez, and Madrid was fortunate to go into the break just one goal down thanks to Marcelo's goal-line clearance of Luis ''Pizzi'' Afonso's shot in the 41st.
But with Ronaldo on the pitch, the second half was all Madrid's as Deportivo first relinquished the ball, and then the lead.
Kaka finally broke through when he curled a right-footed shot from outside the area around diving goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia and into the back of the net.
Ronaldo came close twice before Kaka undid the defense again with a pass to Ronaldo on the left side of the box which he slipped across for Higuain to finish off.
Madrid forward Angel Di Maria was sent off in stoppage time with back-to-back yellow cards for not maintaining the correct distance in a barrier during a free kick.