|Copa del Rey|
Real Madrid 1 - Deportivo La Coruña 2
César; Michel Salgado, Hierro, Pavón (Solari 46'), Roberto
Carlos; Iván Helguera, Makelele; Figo (McManaman 84'), Zidane,
Raúl; Morientes (Guti 68'). 4-2-3-1.
Deportivo La Coruña spoilt Real Madrid's centenary celebrations in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, winning the 100th Spanish cup final with a superior performance over their hosts. The final fell on the actual day that Madrid celebrated their 100 years of existence, and at the start of the season club president Florentino Pérez had requested that the game be played at their stadium as part of their celebrations. Subsequently they won through to final round and saw themselves paired against Deportivo, who like Madrid had a possibility of recording a unique triple of league, cup and Champions League this season. Although the ground was divided into two parts, with almost half occupied by the blue and white of the visiting supporters, it was a foregone conclusion that Madrid would come away with the trophy, and the celebrations were already prepared for the victors.
Both managers put out their full strength line ups, with Del Bosque keeping César in goal rather than Casillas after good performances in their last two games, and Figo coming through an intensive recuperation program to make the team. Irureta's side picked itself, with Molina returning in goal after Nuno had played the earlier rounds of the competition. Depor were not there to be beaten though, and after César tipped a Diego Tristán shot away in the first attack of the game, Sergio gave the Gallicians the lead in the fifth minute, taking Diego Tristán's pass and cutting between Hierro and Salgado before sliding the ball under César's legs. Tempers were raised with so much at stake, and referee Mejuto González had to calm down Raúl and Mauro Silva after they clashed over a hard tackle. From the resulting free kick, Figo landed the ball on Zidane's head, but with Molina beaten the ball hit the bar and bounced out. But then shortly before half time Depor silenced the crowd when Valerón made a good run down the right wing and crossed in for Tristán to get ahead of his marker and turn his shot under César.
That was not in the script, and at half time Del Bosque made his first change, bringing on Solari for Pavón, the Argentine midfielder moving out to the left wing with Helguera covering in defence. Four minutes later though Depor should have scored their third, Valerón's shot beating the keeper but hitting the foot of the post. That let Madrid off the hook, and as so often happens they pulled a goal back when Scaloni lost the ball to Solari down the left wing. The substitute ran on to play a lofted ball in to Morientes in the area, and he turned and squared the ball across for Raúl to beat Molina from close range. Everything was set up for Madrid's come back, but it was Deportivo who went closest to scoring, Sergio shooting wide on a breakaway with the goal at his mercy.
The two managers made their last changes, Madrid changing their striker Morientes for Guti and then bringing on McManaman for a tired Figo, who did not appear to be fully match fit. Irureta used his three changes to pack his defence and midfield, and also to eat up the few remaining minutes as the clock ticked away. And then Mejuto called it a day, and as the blue and white celebrations began the other end of the stadium emptied out, their scarves and banners left behind. The Madrid management put on a brave face but their gambit had not paid off, and it remains to be seen whether they bounce back or whether this proves a killer blow. Deportivo win the trophy for the second time in their history, repeating their triumph in 1995 in the same stadium against Valencia, and they keep their hopes of the triple alive. No time to celebrate though, it was back to La Coruña to prepare for next Saturday's league match. They can let their hair down when the season is all over.