James double helps Real Madrid keep pace with Barca in La Liga
Deportivo La Coruna 2 - 6 Real Madrid

James double helps Real Madrid keep pace with Barca in La Liga

First-team misfit James Rodriguez scored twice as Real Madrid kept pace with their La Liga title rivals Barcelona by beating Deportivo La Coruna 6-2 at the Riazor.

Real lost their lead in the race for the Spanish championship when a Lionel Messi-inspired Barca won Sunday's El Clasico 3-2 at the Bernabeu to close the gap and take pole position on goal difference.

The Catalans threw down the gauntlet to their foes from the capital city by hammering Osasuna 7-1 earlier on Wednesday -- a result that helped hasten the Pamplona club's relegation -- and Real responded positively as a team missing Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema ran riot.

Regular substitute Alvaro Morata again proved he has more ability than that of an understudy by opening the scoring inside a minute and Rodriguez made it 2-0 before 15 minutes were up.

Pepe Mel's Deportivo, after a campaign of struggle now mathematically safe from the drop, gave the visitors food for thought with a goal 10 minutes before the break, but Lucas Vazquez re-established the healthy cushion heading into half-time.

Colombian attacking midfielder Rodriguez staked his claim for more game time, or perhaps a reprieve from Zinedine Zidane's rumoured summer transfer list, with a second after the hour mark and Isco capped an impressive creative display with a goal of his own 11 minutes later.

Former Real Madrid B striker Joselu -- on loan from Stoke -- briefly reduced the deficit but Los Blancos always had another goal in them and that honour fell to Casemiro.

The battle for the title continues when Real host mid-table Valencia on Saturday, with Barca facing a tough test on their cross-city trip to tackle Espanyol in the weekend's derby.

Crucial to the destination of the trophy will be Real's game in hand at Celta Vigo. The match was originally supposed to be played in February but was postponed to due to issues at Balaidos, and Real will hope their Champions League semi-final matches against Atletico are not too exhausting.

That is largely because Barca have already made an early exit from European competition, courtesy of Juventus, who will engage ambitious Monaco across two legs.

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