Manuel Labor reports.....
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Second Division
Copa del Rey
First Division - Day Fourteen

Deportivo de La Coruña 3 - Rayo Vallecano 2

Deportivo: Songo'o; Manuel Pablo, Donato, Naybet, Romero; Víctor, Mauro Silva, Flavio, Turu Flores; Makaay, Pauleta. 4-4-2.
Rayo: Keller; Estíbariz, Cota, Gilmar, Clotet, Alcázar; Ferrón, Pablo Sanz, Llorens; Cembranos, Bolo. 5-3-2.

Deportivo opened up a three point lead at the top after defeating fellow championship contenders Rayo Vallecano by the odd goal. For the second time in 10 days they raced into a three goal lead in the first 15 minutes, but in an almost carbon copy of their match against Panathinaikos they took their foot off the accelerator and let their opponents back into the game. With Djalminha serving a one match suspension, Irureta played Turu Flores wide on the left and brought back Pauleta up front to join Makaay. Songo'o returned in goal after his suspension replacing Kouba. Juande Ramos decided to bring in Gilmar to make up a five man defence, but the ploy didn't work and within seven minutes they were two down with goals from Makaay, from a pass from Donato, and then Turu Flores, following up after Keller had saved from Pauleta. Pauleta added a third from Turu's pass, and it looked as if Rayo were going to be wiped from the map. However Bolo picked up a long clearance from Keller and rounded Naybet to score just before half time, and Rayo were back in the game. Ramos took off Gilmar and Pablo Sanz, who was replacing the injured Poschner in midfield, and brought on Michel I and Helder at half time. This was a better plan, and within four minutes of the restart Helder hit a first time volley which left Songo'o with no chance. Irureta decided to shut up shop, replacing Pauleta and Mauro Silva with Fran and Jaime, and they were able to control the game from then on, and would have even extended their lead through Makaay if Keller had not produced two excellent saves later in the half. Deportivo now find themselves on top of the heap, and Rayo slip down to fifth after their fourth match in a row without a victory. The chaos at Madrid airport didn't help either, and Rayo were just one of several professional sporting sides who had nightmare journeys to and from what must be now one of the worst organised airports in Europe. I just hope that, as with the football, theirs was a soft landing.

Numancia 3 - Celta 1

Numancia: Nuñez; Belsué, Muñiz, Iván Rocha, Octavio; Pacheta, Nagore, Castaño; Barbu; Rubén Navarro, Ojeda. 4-3-1-2.
Celta: Dutruel; Velasco, Cáceres, Sergio, Djorovic; Makelele, Celades; Giovanella, Mostovoi, Gustavo López; McCarthy. 4-2-3-1.

Celta lost their chance to keep up the pressure on Depor after losing to a well organised Numancia side in the cold of the Los Pajaritos stadium in Soria. Revivo (who had to return to Israel after a family illness) was a last minute addition to a long list of absences for Celta, which included Turdó, Juanfran and Karpin (the last two suspended), and McCarthy, Sergio and Giovanella came into the side. Goiko lost Jaume with an injury, and gave Barbu a start behind Ojeda and Rubén. Either side could have scored before Cáceres put through his own net ten minutes before half time after a corner, and Numancia took an unassailable lead with two more in three minutes through Rubén and Ojeda soon after the break. Mostovoi pulled one back, heading in Gustavo López's free kick from close range, and Víctor Fernández brought on Kaviedes for Djorovic in an attempt to push forward. At the end of the match the 9,500 spectators chanted 'campeones, campeones, olé, olé, olé .' as the party went on into the night. This was Numancia's third home win in a row, and they are still unbeaten in their own stadium. They are now ninth and are now only two points below a UEFA cup spot. Who would have thought at the start of the season.....?

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