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REVIEW: VALENCIA 2 - DEPORTIVO 2 (LA LIGA)

08 Mar 2008
A plausible game by Deportivo earned a point at Mestalla. The apathy showed by the Galicians within the first twenty five minutes provoked an early disadvantage of two goals, but the order and concentration demonstrated since that point were crucial to tie a game that seemed complicated. Now Depor continues in its particular war against relegation, the huge defeat of Recreativo is causing a difference of two points with the 18th spot

BEFORE THE GAME
No surprises at Deportivo's starting line-up, coach Miguel Angel Lotina made two modifications compared to the team that won against Espanyol in the previous matchday, the first one was Sergio who replaced Antonio Tom�s in midfield, while the other change was the entrance of Xisco for Bodipo in the striking zone. Lotina used the same 5-2-2-1 of past matches, this time Pablo Amo played in the middle of the other two central defenders, Lopo and Coloccini.

In Valencia, Vicente wasn't able to start the game and Joaqu�n was surprisingly sited on the bench, therefore ex-Depor Arizmendi occupied the left wing, while youngster Juan Mata was covering the right side. As it was expected, Sunny and Banega was the couple selected to play in midfield, while the hope for the goals was in David Villa's boots.

FIRST HALF
Both teams had a cautious attitude within the first two minutes, Depor was waiting in its own zone trusting in the secureness represented by its  wall of five defenders. Meanwhile, Valencia was studying the rival and trying to find the holes in attack, its fist chance was a cross from the left that was searching for Arizmendi, but Pablo Amo cleared the danger with the head (3').

The first opportunity for Deportivo arrived until the 7th minute, a good play between De Guzm�n and Wilhelmsson was transformed into a cross that was deflected by the rival just when Xisco was near to head the ball, the resulting corner-kick ended with Coloccini sending the ball over the crossbar.

It was evident that Deportivo was trying to speculate holding on the situation and speculating with counterattacks, but the problem was that neither De Guzman nor Sergio were dominating midfield, reason why Valencia was dangerously knocking at the door of Aouate without too many problems. Basically, the Valencians were basing their game on the left wing (Depor's right defensive sector), sector in which Manuel Pablo was facing problems in order to control the efforts of Mata and Caneira.

But it was Deportivo who enjoyed of the following chance to put the first goal on the scoresheet, it was during a corner-kick taken by Sergio, the ball hit a defender first and reached Xisco who was alone in the penalty spot, but the Mallorcan wasn't expecting to receive the ball, therefore it hit his knee and ended out (15'). And Valencia scored the first goal two minutes later, and curiously it did it using the weapon of Deportivo:  the counterattack.

A lost ball in Valencia's right sector ended with Javier Arizmendi running 20 meters with the ball, he surpassed De Guzm�n first and assisted Villa on the right wing, then the marksman sent a cross that was headed by the same Arizmeni at the edge of the penalty area and that was transformed into goal by Juan Mata. The play was so quick, that it destabilised Depor's defensive sector, because Filipe was caught out in the middle of an attacking play, that's why Coloccini had to cover the position of the Brazilian on the left, leaving the empty space in the middle. As result of this, the header of Arizmnedi, that seemed going out on the far post, ended in a dead ball that was run by Mata, the youngster was able to reach it and sent a shot to the roof of Aouate's net, neither the Israeli keeper nor Manuel Pablo had the velocity to follow the action.

Deportivo seemed to be reacting with a free-kick taken by Filipe, the ball passed over the barrier and it was saved by Hildebrand in the goal line (17'), but it was just a mirage, because Valencia continued dominating the game while an apathetic Deportivo seemed to be confused after the goal. The home side took advantage of the situation and Miguel tried to double the advantage, but his long-distance shot was contained by Aouate (23').

But Valencia found the second goal one minute later. Koeman's players realised that Filipe was joining too much the attacking efforts of Depor, a situation that caused the appearance of empty spots on Depor's left sector, the first goal came by this zone, and the second followed the same road. Once again Javier Arizmendi was involved in the play, David Villa started the action assisting the Madrilenian striker, then he surpassed Filipe and sent a cross to the far post and into Villa's path, the Asturian just had to head the ball into the net and celebrated his eighth career goal against Depor.

It seemed an early end for Deportivo's aspirations, the squad wasn't reacting and Valencia seemed close to achieve a bigger score. At the 26th minute, Caneira sent the ball over the crossbar after a new good pass from Villa. Valencia was delighting the public at Mestalla and Depor seemed lost. but all changed in one single play, and it was through the preferred game of Lotina's team: set-pieces.

A foul on the left wing was transformed into Depor's first goal, everybody was waiting for a cross to the penalty spot, instead, Filipe made a short pass to Sergio, then the Catalan run a couple of meters and sent a volley searching for somebody's head, but the ball described a parabola that surprised Hildebrand entering into the net by the top-left corner.

The goal gave new life to Depor as the Galicians searched for the equaliser during the last minutes of the first part, and it was near to come through a series of corner-kicks, Valencia reacted with a strong shot from Caneira that was contained by Aouate. And as it happened to Deportivo in the play of the first goal, Valencia suffered the second goal trough a counterattack when the home team was trying to defend the advantage.

The play started with Lopo on the right side of Depor's defensive zone, he passed the ball to Xisco who run ten meters and send the ball to Wilhelmsson who was arriving alone on the right wing, then the Swedish winger drilled the ball to the penalty spot and Angel Lafita arrived to beat Hildebrand with a strong shot that hit the crossbar first, then it hit the ground and went to the back of the net.

It was an incredible thing, because a solid Valencia that was achieving a comfortable 2-0 win in just 25 minutes, was surprised by a furious reaction that drew the game during the last eight minutes of the first half. And its that the apathy showed by Deportivo at the start of the encounter was transformed into concentration, sacrifice and preciseness. Facts that allowed the 2-2 score at half-time.

SECOND HALF
Deportivo tried to surprise during the first five minutes of the second part, the Galicians started to put a strong pressure over Valencia's midfielders, the result was a play in which Xisco was near to score, but his mid-distance shot ended out of target (47'). But Depor's players seemed tired after the 55th minute, therefore the game returned to the same road of the first part: Valencia was having the ball, while Deportivo was holding in it area. An script that wouldn't change throughout the remaining 35 minutes.

Maybe the difference this time is that Julian De Guzm�n had more presence in midfield, he was damaging the efforts of the Valencias and maintained an interesting battle against Ever Banega, without doubt the best player in the home team. Besides, Filipe was no longer joining the attacking efforts of Depor, reason why Arizmendi wasn't finding the holes on the sector covered by the Brazilian.

The improvement in the defensive tasks of Deportivo blocked all the attacking efforts of Valencia, in fact Koeman's team didn't have a clear occasion to score the third goal during  the entire second half.  Paradoxically, it was Depor who was more near to score, first with a drilling shot from De Guzm�n that was contained by Hildebrand (58'), three minutes later with one of the most clear occasions for the Galicians.

It was a corner-kick that Hildebrand couldn't contain, the action ended with De Guzm�n sending the ball to the box with an acrobatic shot and with Pablo Amo missing the right post by inches. At the 66th minute, a new drilling shot, this time sent by Filipe, was near to end in the winning goal for Depor, but the ball passed near to the left post. Three minutes later, Wilhelmsson, who couldn't be stopped by Caneira throughout, the game sent a dangerous cross from the right that  Hildebrand stopped.

Lotina made his first substitution sending Juan Rodr�guez for Lafita, the Aragonian wasn't fine during the game, mainly by the physical problems suffered during the week, but at least he was able to score the equalising goal. The change rested depth to Depor over the left wing, but it gave more secureness in midfield.

With a Valencia that wasn't finding the way to win the game, coach Koeman decided to make a huge change in its system, he replaced Silva and Miguel with Joaqu�n and Vicente, the modifications were searching for more depth on the wings while it forced Arizmendi to play as a right-back during the rest of the game. Despite the intention, the changes didn't work out and Valencia was always contained by the solid wall imposed by the visitors.

The game continued in the same way during the last twenty minutes, Valencia was having the ball, but without creating chances to score, while Depor was defending and speculating with long balls and set-pieces. Then Lotina replaced Xisco with Riki, the Mallorcan made a decent game always fighting for everything, although he missed a clear chance before to Valencia's first goal.

Riki focused his game on the right wing and one of his main actions was a drilling shot that was trying to surprise Hildebrand, but the ball went wide (77'). Then Lotina replaced an exhausted Sergio with Antonio Tom�s. The final opportunity for Valencia came at the 89th minute, with a shot from Vicente that went over the crossbar, practically Aouate was just an spectator during the second part. And it was Deportivo who had the last chance of the encounter, once again in a stationary play, more precisely in a corner-kick taken by Antonio Tom�s that ended with Coloccini shooting on goal from the far post, but his drilling shot was contained by Hildebrand without problems.

AFTER THE GAME
Valencia dominated the game, but after its two goals, it never represented a real problem to Aouate. Depor just corrected its errors in defence and spent the time defending the draw. Despite this, the Galicians were the ones that enjoyed of the best chances to define the game, although this occasions weren't materialised into goals.

If last matchday was the first time on the season that Depor achieves a win after been losing the game, this matchday represents the second time on the present campaign in which Deportivo comes back from a two-goal difference and achieves a draw. The last time was during the 2-2 draw at San Mam�s against Athletic Bilbao with two goals from Riki and Taborda.

Despite Depor has only lost one game within the last six liga encounters, the Galicians still in danger, and its that the drop zone is just two points away, the defeats of Levante, Murcia and Recreativo are a relief to Depor, but Lotina's team can't be too confident, specially since the next game is against the leader Real Madrid at the Riazor (Saturday 20h00).

MATCH STATISTICS
Valencia: Hildebrand - Miguel (Joaqu�n 69'), Albiol, Helguera, Caneira - Banega, Sunny (Edu 77') - Arizmendi, Silva (Vicente 69'), Mata - Villa.
Deportivo: Aouate - Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Coloccini, Pablo Amo, Filipe - De Guzm�n, Sergio (Antonio Tom�s 83') - Wihelmsson, Lafita (Juan Rodr�guez 60') - Xisco (Riki 73').
Goals: 1-0: (16') Mata, 2-0: (23') Villa, 2-1: (36') Sergio, 2-2: (44') Lafita.
Referee: Delgado Ferreiro. He showed yellow card to Mata (20'), Sergio (64'), Riki (81') and Ed� (85')
Venue: Mestalla (40,000).
Other statistics: Ball possession (61% - 39%); Total shots (9 - 9); Shots on target (4 - 5); Saves by the keepers (9 - 6); Corner-kicks  (4 - 7); Offsides (1 - 1); Fouls committed (16 - 12).

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