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REVIEW: DEPORTIVO 3 - ATHLETIC BILBAO 0 (LIGA)

13 Apr 2008
It isn't a mathematical fact, but it should considered as done. Deportivo reached the mark of 43 points in la liga, a mark considered as the magic number in order to achieve the permanence. And Lotina's team did this with a brilliant exhibition at the Riazor, specially during the second half. The Galician squad showed once against that its recuperation in the second round isn't an accident and now thinks of Europe.

BEFORE THE GAME
Lotina sent the expected 5-2-2-1 to the pitch, the same formation that achieved the previous two wins at the Riazor. All eyes were over Xisco, striker that was arriving with five goals scored within the last two games. In Athletic, Caparr??s was just presenting one modification compared to the expected formation: the appearance of David L??pez alongside Javi Mart?要ez in midfield. It was expected to see I?帶ki Mu?得z on that function, but the ex-Depor coach changed his mind.

FIRST HALF
The game was very peaceful during the first fifteen minutes, both teams were living a positive moment and they knew the hurries will only cause them problems, therefore they spent the time studying each other and analysing the weaknesses of the rival. Athletic had the initiative and they had two chances within the first ten minutes. First with Gailondo with a mid-distance shot that went wide (4'), and later Llorente after he headed a cross from Koikili (8'), the ball was stopped by Aouate.

The first clear attempt of Deportivo occurred until the 13th minute, it was a shot of Xisco after receiving a pass from Lafita, Aitor Ocio deflected the ball to a corner-kick. It was the play that awakened Depor, because since this point the Galicians started to dominate the game, Christian Wilhelmsson was the most dangerous man with his moves over the right, the Swedish winger had a double chance at the 15th minute, but in both occasions the ball was deflected by the defenders.

Three minutes later, a good sequence between Sergio and Wilhelmsson ended with a cross headed by Lafita and that went out. Later, at the 25th minute, Xisco tried to surprise Armando with a long-distance shot, but the visiting keeper was able to stop the ball. The strategy of Caparr??s was to put a big pressure in midfield, but the true is that Sergio was feeling really comfortable and he was very active with his good passes.

Despite Depor seemed to be dominating, Athletic was near to open the score at the 24th minute, Depor's defence had troubles in order to clear the ball during a corner-kick taken by Yeste and  David L??pez almost score, but the danger was cleared at the end. And the Galicians put the first goal in the scoresheet in the following play, once again in a stationary play and this time with the participation of the three central defenders.

Sergio was taking a free-kick on the left wing after David L??pez handled the ball, the Catalan sent a deep cross to the far post, Pablo Amo headed the ball first, then Lopo did the same in the penalty spot and it seemed the ball was going out by the near post, but Fabricio Coloccini was there to smash the ball with the head for the third  time in the play and score the goal, his second in two games. The Argentinean ran and dedicated the goal to Caparr??s as he was pointing to his name in his shirt.

Llorente was close to tie the game one minute later, but his shot from short-distance was saved by Aouate. Then, Xisco and Wilhelmsson made a good play at the 35th minute, the Majorcan striker sent a powerful shot when he was inside the penalty spot, but the ball went out. The response of Athletic was just coming with the old recipe of Caparr??s: long balls, the aerial game and specially with shots from mid-distance, like the ones of Javi Mart?要ez (38') or Koikili (42')

SECOND HALF
Athletic pushed strongly during the first minutes, and Javi Mart?要ez was near to tie the game after he headed out a corner-kick taken by Yeste (47'). Later Xisco wasn't able to control the ball after a good play of Sergio, the ball ended in the arms of Armando (52'). Two minutes later, the visitors had their best chance on this game. A free-kick on the right taken by David L??pez was cleared by the defence, Iraola found the ball at the edge of the penalty area and sent a powerful shot that Aouate saved, the rebound was found by  Llorente who sent a new cross to the box, but once again the Israeli keeper saved his team, this time catching the ball.

It seemed that Deportivo would suffer during the second half, Caparr??s refreshed his attacking zone replacing a disappeared Garmendia with Aduriz. Lotina reacted taking off Wihelmsson and sending Riki to the pitch, the Swedish winger seemed tired and the modification meant to see Lafita switching his position to the right wing, while the Madrilenian was mainly playing on the left.

And Lotina defeated Caparr??s with the modification, because it was Riki who had an immediate impact in the game, first with a shot wide after receiving a pass from Lafita (62') , and later causing a penalty after a challenge of Amorebieta. It was during a counterattack started by Aouate after a good play of Gabilondo. It wasn't a clear foul, but referee Daud?姊 Ib???庸z called the penalty. Sergio scored the second goal with a volley to the right of Armando.

The goal killed the game and the fans and the Riazor started to enjoy of the party. Athletic was pushing strongly during the first minutes on the second part, but now they seemed more worried in defending, while Depor started to enjoy of more freedom in midfield. Sergio continued as the leader in the squad and the best plays of Depor were passing through his boots. Xisco, who once again fought hard throughout the match, was near to score the third goal, the Majorcan headed a corner-kick taken by Sergio, but the ball hit the post and later Lafita couldn't score as his shot went out (74').

Depor became a hurricane and Filipe Luis was near to score after his free-kick was  stopped by Armando first and later by the post (75'). And again Xisco was near to score after an assistance of Manuel Pablo, this time Armando stopped his shot (79'). The third goal seemed a matter of time... and it was like that.

Once again thanks to a play started by Riki on the left wing. It was a new counterattack after a foul of David L??pez over Sergio in midfield, the ball was moved fast and Riki sent a precise pass to Filipe Luis who run over the left side, Armando tried to stop him, but the Brazilian sent a beautiful volley over the body of the keeper and that entered by the far post, it's the first goal for Filipe on the season, one that also earns a dinner with Manuel Pablo (a bet between both side defenders).

Lotina spent the last five minutes making his last two changes, first replacing Xisco with Taborda and later Lafita with Juan Rodr?茆uez. Filipe Luis had the last chance of the evening after receiving an assistance of Taborda, but his shot from the edge of the penalty area went out. The match ended with a little fight between the players for a tough tackle of Llorente over Aouate and one of Taborda over Armando.

AFTER THE GAME
Peaceful game for Deportivo, Athletic only gave troubles at the start of both parts, but the Galician side dominated the major part of the encounter. The pressure wanted by Caparr??s in midfield never appeared and Sergio had freedom in order to direct the traffic of the ball. Once again Lafita and Wilhelmsson were very involved, same thing than Xisco who wasn't able to prolong his positive streak. This time the goals were scored by two defenders, while the other goal came through a penalty.

The good moment of Deporitvo can be better explained with numbers. This win represents the fifth consecutive victory at the Riazor, something that didn't occur since five years ago. It's at the same time the third straight win in la liga, something that didn't occur since December of the year 2005. But the most shocking statistics comes with the fact that Depor has scored at least three goals within the last three games. This is a fact that occurred for the last time during the season 1999/2000, the same one of the championship for the Galicians.

Despite the permanence isn't a mathematical fact, it's something that should be considered as done. The relegation zone is now nine points under Depor, and with 18 points still in dispute, only a disaster will put Depor back in the drop zone. Now all eyes are in the Intertoto spot, the Galicians are ninth, just two points under Almer?苔 who is occupying the seventh spot. If this game represented the return of Caparr??s to Riazor, the next one will mean the return of Lotina to Reyno de Navarra, this in order to face Osasuna on Sunday (17h00).

MATCH STATISTICS:
Deportivo: Aouate - Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Pablo Amo, Coloccini, Filipe Luis - Sergio, De Guzm??n - Wilhelmsson (Riki 60'), Lafita (Juan Rodr?茆uez 87') - Xisco (Taborda 83').
Athletic Bilbao: Armando - Iraola, Aitor Ocio (Mu?得z 66'), Amorebieta, Koikili - David L??pez, Javi Mart?要ez, Yeste, Gabilondo (Cu?始lar 75') - Garmendia (Aduriz 59'), Llorente.
Goals: 1-0: (31') Coloccini, 2-0: (64') Sergio (penalty), 3-0: (79') Filipe.
Referee: Daud?姊 Ib???庸z. He showed yellow card tro Koikili (20'), Lopo (48'), Manuel Pablo (69') and Amorebieta ('74).
Venue: Riazor (26,000)
Other statistics: Ball possession (49% - 51%); Total shots (14 - 8); Shots on target (7 - 2); Saves by the keepers (3 - 4); Corner-kicks  (5 - 4); Offsides (1 - 1); Fouls committed (9 - 13).

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