First Division - Day 22

Deportivo 4 - Real Sociedad 1

Deportivo: Molina; Manuel Pablo, Donato, Naybet, Romero; Mauro Silva, Valerón; Scaloni (Duscher 80'), Djalminha (Pandiani 65'), Fran; Diego Tristán (Víctor 75'). 4-2-3-1.
Real Sociedad: Asper; Loren, Corino, Julio César; López Rekarte, Xavi Alonso, Luiz Alberto, Aranzábal (Tayfun 55'); Khokhlov, Idiakez (De Pedro 67'), Llorente (De Paula 46'). 3-4-3.

Team changes: Depor: Valerón, Djalminha, Diego Tristán for Emerson, Pandiani, Makaay / Real: Idiakez for Jankauskas.

1-0. 05. Diego Tristán. Chested down Valerón pass and scored from wide angle.
2-0. 30. Donato. Curled free kick from 22 metres into corner of net.
3-0. 42. Diego Tristán. Took short pass from Fran, ran on and shot past Asper.
4-0. 62. Diego Tristán. Controlled Valerón's pass and rounded Asper to score.
4-1. 68. De Pedro. Took short free kick, turned and beat keeper from edge of area.

Deportivo closed the gap with Real Madrid to four points after a comfortable victory over Real Sociedad. With Makaay out injured Diego Tristán took his opportunity to stake his claim for a place in the first team with his second hat-trick of the season, taking his tally to eleven goals in all competitions. Tristán was one of three changes made by Irureta, with Valerón surprisingly coming in to the double pivot position in place of the suspended Emerson and Djalminha returning to the starting line up. John Toshack, returning to his old ground Riazor for the first time in four years, changed his format to include a four man midfield and did not include a recognised out-and-out striker in his starting line up.

The inclusion of Valerón and Tristán was the key to the match, with the Canary Island born midfielder producing the pass in the fifth minute for Tristán to chest down and thread the ball past Asper in off the far post from an almost impossible angle. Later on Valerón laid on Tristán's third in the second half, once again the high pass chested down, round Asper and into the back of the net. Before that Donato scored his third of the season from a free kick, with everyone expecting Djalminha to take it, and Tristán got another after playing a one two with Fran. In between the two goalkeepers had their turns to shine, with Asper saving from Djalminha and Molina turning Khokhlov's shot away for a corner.

Toshack brought on De Paula at half time and then added Tayfun and De Pedro, and the latter finally got a consolation goal after a short free kick immediately after coming on. But with a large margin in their favour Depor sat out the rest of the game, leaving their opponents back down in the relegation zone in a group of four teams now seven points adrift from the rest. Depor keep up their chase on Madrid, now with a four point breathing space over third placed Barcelona, who they visit next weekend. But before that they have to go to Turkey to play Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday night. At least today they proved they have an in-depth squad which Irureta is playing like a chess grand master. Other managers should take note.