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

Deportivo de La Coruña 1 - Celta de Vigo 0

Deportivo: Songo'o; Manuel Pablo, Donato, Naybet, Romero; Mauro Silva, Flavio; Víctor, Djalminha, Turu Flores; Makaay. 4-2-3-1.
Celta: Dutruel; Velasco, Cáceres, Djorovic, Juanfran; Makelele, Giovanella; Karpin, Mostovoi, Gustavo López; Turdó. 4-2-3-1.

For the first time in their history, the two Gallician sides met in a local derby holding the two top spots in the league, and sold out signs were posted around the 36,000 seater Riazor stadium for the first time in many seasons before the match. Although both managers had tried to keep it low key all week, with so much at stake the atmosphere was red hot, and tempers were raised on several occasions throughout the match. Both teams lined up virtually unchanged, with Turu Flores coming in for Jokanovic for the home side, and Giovanella replacing Celades for the visitors. Both sides played the same formation, with Makaay keeping out Pauleta as Deportivo's sole striker, and Turdó now a first choice up front for Celta to the detriment of McCarthy. If anything Celta were the better side in the first half, with Songo'o tipping Gustavo López's shot onto the crossbar in the 12th minute, and Cáceres missing a close range header shortly afterwards. Deportivo came back in the second half however, and Turu Flores finally broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, running on to a loose ball on the left of the penalty area and shooting first time past Dutruel. The match at times was more like an international diving contest, with players from both sides making spectacular falls as well as a series of genuinely hard tackles. Referee Llonch Andreu was forced to intervene as early as the fourth minute, booking Gustavo López for a foul on Víctor, and with Djalminha, Mostovoi and Juanfran in particular looking for trouble, he got out the yellow card another seven times, eventually sending off Djalminha in the last minute for a second bookable offence. Ramis came on for his first appearance of the season, replacing the injured Donato, who at 36 is the oldest man in the league, other late substitutes being Jokanovic and Fernando for Depor and McCarthy for Celta. This was Deportivo's seventh win in a row, a club record, and they now move eight points ahead of their rivals.

Athletic Bilbao 2 - Zaragoza 2

Athletic: Imanol Etxeberria; Larrazábal, Lacruz, Alkorta, Carlos García, Larrainzar; Urrutia, Alkiza, Guerrero; Joseba Etxeberria, Ezquerro. 5-3-2.
Zaragoza: Juanmi; Pablo, Aguado, Paco, Sundgren; Helguera, Garitano, Aragón, Vellisca; Juanele, Milosevic. 4-4-2. Yet another rainy night in Bilbao, with the San Mames pitch once again converted to a mud bath. No wonder why Bilbao managers tend to buy hardy types! Luis Fernández opted however to leave out his hardy centre forward Urzaiz once again, playing five at the back out of respect for Milosevic and his accompanying strike force. Txetxu Rojo had to replace the suspended Toro Acuña with Luis Helguera (brother of Real Madrid's Iván), but had Paco and Sundgren back in defence. All four goals came in the first half, with Ezquerro opening the scoring for the home side after the ball had stopped dead in the mud in the Zaragoza goalmouth. Vellisca levelled the scores on the half hour meeting a long cross from the right and steering the ball first time past Imanol. Three minutes later the visitors were ahead, with Milosevic winning a penalty after being brought down by Lacruz. Bilbao were unlucky as Milosevic appeared to be offside when he received the ball. Milosevic himself took and scored the penalty, but only after a verbal battle with Garitano who wanted to take the kick himself (handbags at ten paces). Justice was done a few minutes later, as Lacruz beat Juanmi to Guerrero's cross to head the equalizer. At half time Rojo brought on Radimov for the injured Vellisca, the Russian striker returning to the squad after a loan period abroad. Shortly afterwards, Fernández brought on Urzaiz for Lacruz. Apart from a good mud fight, the only incident worthy of note in the second half was the sending off of Felipe for a foul on Milosevic near the end. Felipe had only just come on as substitute, and was returning from a one match suspension. The shared points means that Zaragoza stay third, and Bilbao remain in eleventh place. Zaragoza now play Deportivo at home on Wednesday, and have a chance to catch up on the leaders.

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