| Manuel Labor reports.....
|First Division - Day Thirty|
Deportivo de La Coruña 3 - Oviedo 1
Manuel Pablo, Schurrer, Donato, Romero; Jaime, Jokanovic; Víctor, Turu
Flores, Fran; Makaay. 4-2-3-1.
Team changes: Depor: Jaime, Jokanovic, Turu Flores for Flavio, Mauro Silva, Djalminha / Oviedo: Boris, Rabarivony, Dely Valdés for Bango, Pompei, Losada.
Deportivo played the last game of the weekend on Sunday night knowing that their rivals Barcelona had replaced them at the top of the table the day before. With Zaragoza also winning at Alavés, Deportivo were forced to go for the victory against an Oviedo side who have not won away in over a year. Irureta was without four key players, with Pauleta, Mauro Silva and Flavio all suspended and Djalminha injured, and the two defensive pivot positions in his now habitual 4-2-3-1 formation were taken by Jaime and Jokanivic. Turu Flores came in to Djalminha's spot behind Makaay. Luis Aragonés brought back Boris after a one match suspension, but lost Onopko and Losada for the same reason, and Bango and Pompei both failed late fitness tests. Dely Valdés returned from international duty with Panama to lead the attack. After Nadj had given the home supporters a scare, Makaay gave Deportivo the lead with a well directed header. The home side dominated down the wings, with Manuel Pablo and Víctor on the right and Romero and Fran on the left getting round the Oviedo defence with ease. Dely Valdés missed an easy chance to equalise, but after Fran hit the crossbar with a header, Makaay struck again, this time after a cross from Manuel Pablo on the right. Deportivo continued to attack, with Esteban saving twice from Víctor and Jokanovic before half time, and Makaay just missing out on his hat-trick after the break when his shot hit the bar. Luis brought on Iván Iglesias early in the second half and he immediately went close to scoring. Oviedo were back on song, and five minutes later they pulled one back through Frederick Danjou after Songo'o had failed to hold on to a long header from Rubén. Irureta changed Romero and Víctor, bringing on Manel and Scaloni to strengthen the defence, and Luis took off Rubén and brought on the more experienced Juan González in attack. The home supporters breathed a sigh of relief a few minutes later however as the grandfather of the team, Donato, celebrated his new one-year contract heading Fran's kick past Esteban. Seven minutes from time Irureta gave César a run out, his first appearance since returning from injury. Deportivo move back to the top of the table, re-establishing their two-point lead over Barcelona. Oviedo stay in eighteenth place, but have the consolation that their closest rivals Atlético and Real Sociedad lost, and Betis could only draw at home. Their home form could yet save them, but a point or two away wouldn't go amiss.
Málaga 1 - Barcelona 2
Contreras; Rojas, Larrainzar, Fernando Sanz, Valcarce; Ruano, Movilla, De los
Santos, Rufete; Darío Silva, Catanha. 4-4-2.
Team changes: Málaga: No change / Barcelona: No change.
After Larrainzar brought down Gabri in the area. Playing on a Saturday night, Barcelona moved to the top of the table after coming from behind to win this match. Both teams were unchanged from their last league line ups, although Figo, Abelardo, Puyol and Kluivert did not play in the Champions League midweek. Málaga were also unchanged, with ex Barcelona midfielder Rufete on a high after being called up to the Spanish squad for the first time on Friday. In the sixth minute of the game, Ronald De Boer was injured after a tackle by Darío Silva, and Gabri came on in his place. Referee Daudén Ibáñez disallowed a goal by Rufete fifteen minutes later, a decision much protested by the players, but he allowed Catanha's goal to stand when he was in a similar position at the moment Darío Silva made the pass to him. Puyol and Bogarde were both booked for hard tackles later in the half, and the young full back will miss next week's game against Valencia. At the start of the second half Contreras was called upon to save from Rivaldo and Kluivert, and Hesp did likewise with a shot from Darío Silva. Van Gaal took off Guardiola and Rivaldo, both nursing injuries all week, bringing on Xavi and Dani around the hour mark. Luque came on for Darío Silva a bit later. Ten minutes from time Abelardo got ahead of the Málaga defence to head home Figo's free kick from the left, and as the players were celebrating Gabri was hit by a plastic water bottle thrown from the crowd. Six minutes later Daudén Ibáñez upset the crowd even further when he awarded a penalty to Barcelona for a supposed foul by Larrainzar on Gabri, although on television it appeared to be an accidental clash of shoulders. Kluivert scored from the spot and, probably upset by the earlier water throwing incident, gestured at the crowd. Another bottle followed, this time hitting Figo on the head and flooring him. He carried on afterwards, but the incident could cause the closure of the ground for a game or so, and may even bring another video committee ban for Kluivert, the man they love to hate. This was Barcelona's eighth win in a row including European matches, and they move a point ahead of Deportivo for the moment. Málaga drop down a bit, but are still in the top half of the table and should be safe.