Any doubts that Real Madrid’s big-name stars will struggle to play together this season were seemingly blown away in a remarkable 8-2 thrashing of Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday.
World player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, last year’s marquee signing Gareth Bale netted twice and recently-arrived World Cup star James Rodriguez was also on the scoresheet in the Spanish top-flight match.
Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, a loan signing from Manchester United, grabbed the final two goals after coming on as a late substitute.
It was the first time the club has scored eight goals in an away La Liga match, and the winning margin matched the 7-1 success at Real Zaragoza in the 1987-88 season.
“We showed the quality we have. We have a phenomenon in Ronaldo and we have other players with great quality,” coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters.
“They combined very well together and that was the best thing we can take from the game.”
Ancelotti’s team made an impressive start to its European Champions League title defense in midweek, beating Basel 5-1, but the club’s early domestic form has been patchy.
This victory, after a win and two defeats, left Madrid three points behind big rival Barcelona, which travels to bottom club Levante on Sunday seeking to maintain a 100% record.
City rival Atletico Madrid, which won the Spanish title last season but lost to Real in the European final, dropped points in a 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo later Saturday.
“The season is very long and recovering points on the leaders just now isn’t the problem,” Ancelotti added.
“We have to improve. Today we showed the quality everyone knows we have which is the capability to score in many different ways.
“We need to continue improving the balance and our consistency. After two defeats we have scored 13 goals and that is a good sign that we have responded well.”
Ronaldo, who netted against Swiss side Basel on Tuesday, scored his 23rd hat-trick for Real since joining in a then world-record $130 million move from English club Manchester United.
Rodriguez, who won the golden boot as top scorer at Brazil 2014 before joining Real for a reported $121 million from Monaco, then scored his second goal in a week as he curled in a superb left-foot effort.
Ronaldo made it 3-0 before halftime but Deportivo pulled a goal back after the break with a penalty after Sergio Ramos was ruled to have handled the ball.
Bale — whose move from Tottenham last year eclipsed the Portugal captain’s transfer fee — took center stage with two well-taken goals.
Deportivo, which had conceded only four times in three previous games, went 6-1 down as Ronaldo sealed his treble from Rodriguez’s pass before Toche headed a consolation.
Hernandez, who replaced Bale, fired in a left-foot volley from the edge of the area and then added another long-range effort — this one deflecting into the net off a defender.
Atletico conceded an early goal to Pablo Hernandez but led 2-1 at halftime through Miranda and defender Diego Godin before Nolito leveled with a 53rd-minute penalty.
The draw left Diego Simeone’s team a point behind Barca in second, with Granada third on goal difference after winning 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao.
Three-time defending champion Juventus secured a third win from three this season, as Argentina striker Carlos Tevez scored the only goal at AC Milan on Saturday.
The 71st-minute decider gave coach Massimiliano Allegri a notable victory over the club that sacked him in January.
It left Milan in second after a first defeat this Serie A season, while Roma can join Juve on three wins from three by beating Cagliari on Sunday.
Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich was held 0-0 at second-bottom Hamburg on Saturday, leaving Pep Guardiola’s team fourth on goal difference after a second draw in four matches.
Promoted Paderborn, which travels to Bayern’s Allianz Arena on Tuesday, is top after a 2-0 win over Hanover that was capped by a spectacular late volley by Moritz Stoppelkamp from just outside his own penalty area.
The top four teams all have eight points after second-placed Mainz upset last season’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund 2-0 and Hoffenheim, in third, won by the same score at Stuttgart.
Marseille went top on goal difference after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Rennes, as France forward Andre-Pierre Gignac scored twice.
It put Marseille above Bordeaux, which won 2-1 against bottom side Evian Thonon Gaillard on Friday.
Sixth-placed defending champion Paris St. Germain hosts Lyon on Sunday, when Lille could go top by beating Montpellier.