First Division - Day 21

Deportivo 2 - Racing Santander 1

Deportivo: Molina; Manuel Pablo, Donato, Naybet, Romero; Scaloni, Mauro Silva, Emerson (Djalminha 60'), Fran (Víctor 75'); Makaay (Diego Tristán 88'), Pandiani. 4-4-2.
Racing: Ceballos; Tais (Pineda 37'), Mellberg (Regueiro 58'), Neru, Arzeno, Juanma; Julio Alvarez, Espina, Colsa, Amavisca; Mazzoni (Magallanes 84'). 5-4-1.

Team changes: Depor: Naybet, Mauro Silva for César, Ramis / Racing: Ceballos, Tais, Neru, Espina for Lemmens, Txema, Jaime, Preciado.

1-0. 04. Makaay. Took bad back pass from Mazzoni and rounded keeper.
1-1. 31. Colsa. Powerful header past Molina after Julio Alvarez free kick.
2-1. 32. Makaay. First time shot from edge of area as cross came over from right.

Deportivo held on to second spot with a victory against bottom side Racing Santander who played most of the second half with ten men. Racing were the last side to win at the Riazor stadium in the league thirteen months ago, and have beaten them there in the last two seasons, so Irureta was not taking any chances, despite the fact that the Santander had only picked up two points away from home all season. The big debate all week was whether Djalminha would return after serving out his two match suspension, but in the end the manager left him on the bench, preferring the Makaay - Pandiani double strike force which has worked so well in recent weeks. With Mauro Silva returning in midfield, Donato dropped back to the back four, with Naybet also returning after playing for his country last week. Racing have made six new signings during the winter transfer period, and three of their four last minute additions, Cárdenas, Magallanes and Regueiro were on the bench, with Juanma and Mazzoni already well established in the side. The one exception was Ramis, who together with Jaime was ineligible for this game as part of the agreement with Deportivo for their respective transfers to the Cantabrian side.

Scaloni hit the post with the first attack of the match, the ball falling back to Pandiani who put his header wide. A couple of minutes later Deportivo were ahead, Makaay rounding Ceballos to score. However the goal was strongly protested by the Racing players as they had all pulled up after the linesman had raised his flag for offside, and even Makaay himself had stopped at first before tapping the ball in the net just in case. In the end though referee Megía Dávila correctly allowed it to stand, the ball having arrived at the Dutch striker's feet from a wild back pass from Mazzoni in the middle of the field. Racing picked themselves up though as they had done in the cup midweek against Zaragoza, with Espina and Colsa starting to take control in midfield. On the half hour mark their efforts paid off when Colsa beating Molina from just inside the area with a strong header from Julio Alvarez's cross, but their joy was short-lived, as Deportivo came back immediately to reestablish their lead. And once again it was that man Makaay, scoring his sixth goal in four matches with a typical striker's goal, pouncing on a loose ball after Manuel Pablo's cross was deflected by a defender to drive it low past the keeper.

Ten minutes into the second half Racing were reduced to ten men when Colsa got a second yellow card for a foul on Emerson. Manzano, who had already had to bring on Pineda for the injured Tais, decided to go for broke and took off a defender Mellberg to give Regueiro his first minutes of Spanish football. Irureta responded by replacing Emerson with Djalminha, the Brazilian making his 100th appearance in a blue and white shirt. From that moment on, apart from an Arzeno header late in the match, Racing didn't trouble Molina's goal as Depor took command. Djalminha shot wide twice and Pandiani wasted a couple of chances as the Gallicians tried to wrap up the game. In the last few minutes Megallanes made his debut for Racing and Makaay had to leave the field with an injury that could leave him on the sidelines for a couple of weeks or so, Diego Tristán coming on and firing a shot against Ceballos in the last minute of injury time. In the end victory for Deportivo which leaves them a point ahead of Barcelona and still in touch with leaders Real Madrid. Racing sink further at the bottom, now six points away from safety with Barcelona and Real Madrid to come in their next two games. In between they have an important cup match at Zaragoza. If they lose those three games their season is almost at an end. Manzano has some work to do.