Messi may not have scored as Barca kicked off their season with a 2-0 win at home to a revamped Betis, but he was at the heart of most of his side's best move, hitting the woodwork twice into the bargain.
Deportivo continued to threaten, however, with Andone heading over the crossbar from close range in the 37th minute, while Bakkali was causing problems to the champions with his pace and trickery in a wide position.
The long-serving captain picked up a yellow earlier in the game for shoving his palm into the face of Fabian Schar (see photo above) but it was his second caution - for a tenuous "elbow" on Borja Valle - that saw him enter the record books... Luka Modric's shot from 20 yards was poorly dealt with by Depor goalkeeper Ruben Martinez, with Karim Benzema's touch on the rebound allowing Bale to slam in the simplest of finishes from two yards.
Just seven minutes later, Casemiro converted Marcelo's cross to double his side's lead before Bale assisted midfielder Toni Kroos just after the hour to complete the scoring, the Mirror reported. This was Bale's first goal in 392 minutes of football.
Depor had an even better chance to end the match with a goal after being awarded an 89th-minute spot-kick when Carvajal took out Gama from behind, but Andone produced a terrible effort that looked to be drifting off target before Navas got a faint touch to make sure he claimed a clean sheet.
- There were 44 passes in the build-up for Casemiro's goal, the most before a goal in La Liga since at least 2006/07.
For Ramos, who is known for his all-action style, which often results in hugely influential involvement at both ends of the pitch, it was the 18th La Liga red card of his career to date.