Competition news


18 May 2008
Sweet defeat for Deportivo. The Galicians ended its positive streak at the Riazor and suffered the first and only setback at home during the second round. But the result of Athletic Bilbao at Sevilla secured the pass to the Intertoto, meaning that Depor returns to Europe after two seasons. Each half of the game was for one team, Villarreal was better in the first half, while Depor had countless chances in the second period.

No surprises at Lotina's line-up. Lopo was fit to play and performed alongside Pablo Amo and Coloccini in the centre of the defence. Manuel Pablo reached the historic mark of 241 liga presentations with Depor and became the fifth man with more games in Primera wearing the Blanquiazul shirt. Lafita returned to the squad and leaded the offensive efforts. His partners for the job were Wilhelmsson and Xisco.

The novelties were in the side of the visitors. Coach Pellegrini left Nihat, the pichichi of the squad, sited on the bench and his place was taken by Tomasson, while Pires didn't appear and his position was occupied by Matias Fern??ndez. Right-back Javi Venta was also rested and his place was for ex-Celta ?ngel. Finally, midfielder Senna was also sidelined and his place was taken by Bruno.

The evening started very well for Deportivo, with the 1-0 win of Fabril over San Sebasti??n Los Reyes, result that allows its qualification to the playoffs to Segunda Divisi??n. The game Sevilla-Athletic Bilbao was starting at the same time, the Basques were needing to win and to see Depor losing in order to reach the Intertoto spot.

Villarreal arrived to La Coru?±a in order to close the season and was playing without hurries nor pressure, while Depor was searching for a point to clinch the Intertoto spot. It was clear the Galicians should be the ones putting more will on the pitch, but it wasn't like that, at least for the initial 45 minutes, because Villarreal was always the side with the better ideas. In fact, Deportivo didn't make a single shot on target throughout the first half. However, it must be said that Villarreal only made one shot on goal during the first period

The game started with Cazorla sending a shot wide after a rebound in a play started by Bruno (1'). Later it was ex-Depor Capdevila who tried after a pass of Guille Franco, the Catalan was alone against Aouate but the ball was cleared by Coloccini. The first minutes were obscure, nobody was having clear opportunities although Villarreal was the side that enjoyed of the ball possession.

After a period of fifteen minutes without occasions, the game changed and became exciting, with options in both sides. First Villarreal had a chance at the 18th minute. Guille Franco sent a shot from the edge of the area and the ball hit Lopo first and later it went to corner-kick. Cazorla took the shot and the danger was cleared by Depor's defenders. And the first occasion for Deportivo arrived at minute 20, a good play in midfield was used by Filipe Luis in order to try a cross from the left, the ball ended in a corner-kick, Sergio and the same Filipe hurried the things and a final cross was sent to the box. There, first Lopo and later Wilhelmsson had the chance to score, but the effort of the Catalan hit a defender and later the Swedish winger sent the ball out.

And Villarreal was near to score at the minute 25, Guille Franco made a good play and assisted Tomasson, the Danish was alone against Aouate but his final shot hit the post. Deportivo reacted with a cross that Xisco headed first and then the ball reached Wilhelmsson who was at the edge of the penalty area, 'Chippen' had the option to run and enter into the box, but he preferred to send a shot, his effort went wide.

Meanwhile, the fans were also following the game at the Sanchez Pizjuan, they were nervous since Athletic Bilbao was winning after taking a penalty when its game was starting, therefore everybody at the Riazor knew Depor was needing a positive result in this game. And the hope started to vanish after Matias Fern??ndez scored the first goal, it was a good pass of Cazorla that the Chilean capitalised when he was at the edge of the area, he sent a drilling shot that Aouate couldn't stop.

It was the most difficult moment for the Galicians, they were momentary out of Intertoto and they were needing to search for the goals against the best defence in the second round. And Xisco had the big chance to tie the actions just sixty seconds later. Manuwel Pablo sent a shot from the right, the effort seemed harmful as Diego L??pez was near to catch it, but Cygan tried to clear the danger with his head and ended leaving a dead ball just meters away from the ball, Xisco tried to shot but he missed the ball. Nobody else was inside the box and the danger was cleared.

Depor tried to do something in the final minutes, but it was short of ideas while a very organised Villarreal was just moving the ball and waiting for a new chance. At least the first half ended with good news since Sevilla was able to tie the game with Athletic at the S??nchez Pizju??n, meaning that Depor went to half-time in the same way it started the game: with the Intertoto spot inside the pocket.

Depor started the actions with more will, at the 47th minute Manuel Pablo sent a cross from the right and Diego L??pez had to fly in order to steal the ball from Xisco's head. Two minutes later, Lafita fell down in the penalty zone, but referee Medina Cantalejo didn't whistle anything, it was a clear penalty after a tackle over the winger, Depor's players were protesting and Villarreal was near to double the advantage in the counterattack leaded by Mati Fern??ndez, but Cazorla hit the net by the outside.

The game had a clear script throughout the second half: Deportivo was pushing for the equaliser, while Villarreal was waiting and trying to create new chances through the counterattack. The next chance for the Galicians was a cross from the right made by Manuel Pablo, but Diego L??pez controlled the ball (53'). One minute later, the same Manuel Pablo assisted Lafita, the Aragonian sent a shot from mid-distance but the ball went near to the left post. This sequence was repeated at the 56th minute, the Canarian right-back assisted Lafita inside the penalty area, but this time the ex-Zaragoza lost the ball before been able to shot.

Deportivo was clearly deserving the equaliser, one minute after the action of Lafita, Filipe Luis made a wonderful play one the left side eluding five rivals, then the Brazilian assisted Wilhelmsson inside the box, but the Swedish player had a blocked shot and the ball ended in a corner, then Sergio took the corner-kick and Coloccini headed the ball in the far post, but his effort ended out.

At the 60th minute, Sergio had a chance trough a free-kick at the border of the area, but his effort went out. Later De Guzm??n tried from long-distance, this time the shot was blocked (61'). Depor continued accumulating chances, one minute after De Guzm??n's shot, Coloccini hit the post. Sergio sent a cross without consequences from the right, then the Argentinean defender took the ball in othe other side and the new cross hit the crossbar and went out.

Then Lotina decided to replace Xisco with Riki, the Majorcan did nothing in the game and his place was taken by the ex-Getafe striker, the best 'revulsive' that Lotina has on the bench since he scored five goals after starting the game as substitute. Pellegrini reacted with the entrance of Nihat for Tommasson, but Depor continued in its quest for the equalising goal.

At minute 70, Wilhelmsson was having a clear chance in a one-to-one action against Diego L??pez, but the referee whistled a doubtful offside. One minute later, Riki was near to equalise the game with a crossed shot that passed near to the crossbar.  At minute 75, the same Riki tried from mid-distance, this time the ball went wide.

The first chance for Villarreal during the second half came until the 78th minute, Nihat received a good pass from Cani and the Turkish marksman faced Aouate one-on-one, but his final shot went over the crossbar. Then Lotina sent Guardado to the pitch, the Mexican returned after two month and replaced Lafita, man that was very active although it wasn't his best night at Depor. Then it came the news to the Riazor that Sevilla was scoring two consecutive goals and the Intertoto was a secure thing for Depor although it was losing its game.

However, the Galicians continued insisting. Filipe Luis, the best man for Depor in the game, was unstoppable on the left sector, he was fouled near to the penalty area and Sergio took the free-kick, his shot was sent to Riki's path, but Diego Lopez saved the visitors. Despite the European ticket was secure (Sevilla was leading Athletic with a 3-1 score at the time), Lotina didn't want to lose the final game at the Riazor and he made a radical change for the final five minutes: he replaced Pablo Amo with Taborda and switched into a 4-4-2 line-up.

It was clear that Depor would try to tie the actions using long balls and crosses to the area, but the Galicians only had one chance through the aerial game after the entrance of the Uruguayan attacker. It was for Coloccini after Sergio took a corner-kick, the Argentinean headed the ball inside the box but into Diego Lopez's hands (87'). Then Depor gave up during the final two minutes plus the stoppage time, the players were exhausted and preferred to celebrate the fourth goal of Sevilla at the S??nchez Pizju??n.

And despite the countless chances for Depor, it was Villarreal who scored the goal in the stoppage time. It was a play of Capdevila on the left that was resolved by Guille Franco inside the box. It's the eight goal for the Mexican on this season And it was unfair, because the action was just the second clear chance for the visitors in the entire second half. Seconds later, referee Medina Cantalejo whistled the end of the game and the end of the season for Deportivo.

Sweet defeat at the Riazor. Depor ended its streak of seven straight wins at home, and suffered the only setback at the Riazor during the second round against a Villarreal that demonstrated why it was the best defence since matchday 20. Villarreal managed the game in the first half and capitalised its more clear chance, later it started to defend the result and Deportivo had several opportunities during the second part.

Lotina's Depor deserved the draw since it had the ball possession in this part of the match, it hit the ball in the crossbar and even was affected for the referee for a penalty over Lafita that wasn't whistle. But Villarreal achieved the final victory and even scored a second goal after taking advantage of one of its two chances in the second half. In the end, the visitors demonstrated their offensive power as they ended with a perfect mark of two shots on target and two goals, while Depor met Diego L??pez in the two shots on goal made by the Galician side in the entire encounter.

Villarreal numbers are impressive: The Valencians ended in a meritorious second place in la liga, it achieved its sixth straight clean sheet, also goalkeeper Diego L??pez broke the record of minutes without allowing goals at the club and the squad also ended the tournament as the best visitor in Primera Divisi??n.

But there were good news at Depor too, first Fabril achieved the pass to the playoffs. Secondly, Coloccini played the entire 38 matches and he's now the only field player in the history of the club with a perfect mark of 3,420 minutes in a single season. Finally, Depor returns to Europe after two years. The defeat of Athletic Bilbao at Sevilla assured the Intertoto spot to the Galicians and Lotina's Depor ended the tournament ninth.

Deportivo: Aouate - Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Pablo Amo (Taborda 84'), Coloccini, Filipe - De Guzm??n, Sergio - Willhelmsson, Lafita (Guardado 80') - Xisco (Riki 65').
Villarreal: Diego L??pez - ?ngel, Cygan, Gonzalo, Capdevila - Eguren, Bruno, Santi Cazorla (Cani 74'), Mati Fern??ndez (Pires 85') - Guille Franco, Tomasson (Nihat 67')
Goals: 0-1: (34') Mati Fern??ndez, 0-2: (90+3') Guille Franco.
Referee: Medina Cantalejo He showed yellow card to Eguren (52'), Wilhelmsson (69') and Bruno (76').
Venue: Riazor (17,000).
Other statistics: Ball possession (45% - 55%); Total shots (16 - 8); Shots on target (2 - 2); Saves by the keepers (0 - 2); Corner-kicks  (8 - 3); Offsides (4 - 1); Fouls committed (8 - 26).

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