First Division - Day 23

Deportivo La Coruña 6 - Alavés 0

Deportivo: Juanmi; Héctor (Manuel Pablo 75'), Andrade, Naybet, Capdevila; Scaloni, Sergio, Duscher, Amavisca; Makaay (Valerón 55'), Diego Tristán (Luque 62'). 4-4-2.
Alavés: Dutruel; Geli, Abelardo, Karmona, Llorens; Tomic, Luis Helguera (Desio 65'), Edu Alonso, Jordi Cruyff (Iván Alonso 46'), Magno; Rubén Navarro (Mara 63'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Deportivo: Capdevila, Amavisca, Diego Tristán for Romero, Mauro Silva, Luque / Alavés: Jordi Cruyff for Iván Alonso.

1-0. 15. Diego Tristán. Low free kick from left of area which Dutruel misjudged.
2-0. 20. Diego Tristán. Picked up ball and beat two men before chipping keeper.
3-0. 34. Makaay. Struck low shot past keeper after first effort blocked.
4-0. 52. Makaay. Ran on to Héctor cross from right to steer ball past keeper.
5-0. 60. Diego Tristán. Turned ball into net on near post from Scaloni cross.
6-0. 63. Luque. Ran on to pass from left to shoot low past Dutruel.

Deportivo La Coruña made up in part for their surprise European defeat at the hands of Basel by hammering six past a poor Alavés. Irureta was under pressure after some poor recent results, and there is already talk of his being replaced by his opposite number in this match, Mané, at the end of the season. The home manager's rotation system is already being questioned, but with several of his key players injured he had no choice but to make changes. He did however forget the experiment of playing Sergio on the wing, and he reverted to a more traditional 4-4-2 line up, with Diego Tristán getting the nod over Luque for the second striker's position.

After an initial scare when Tomic went close, Depor took the lead with two goals from Tristán in the first twenty minutes of the game. The first came from a low free kick from wide on the left which Dutruel somehow failed to stop, and the second a brilliant chip over the keeper after the Spanish international striker waltzed through the defence, bringing out the white handkerchiefs in appreciation. Makaay was not to be outdone though, and shortly after Magno hit the bar for the visitors, the league's leading scorer added a third goal when given a second chance by Abelardo.

Mané brought on an extra striker at the break in the forlorn hope of getting back in the game, but seven minutes after the restart Makaay got his second of the night, an easy tap in from Héctor's long ball in from the right. Irureta decided to rest his star man for Tuesday's return tie against the Swiss and brought on Valerón to a standing ovation. And still it went on, Tristán completing his hat-trick on the hour mark from Scaloni's cross. He too was replaced a couple of minutes later by Luque, and the young striker immediately got in on the act, picking up a pass in from the left to run on and fire a low shot past the hapless Dutruel.

After that they slowed down, saving a few bullets for Basel, their work complete for the night and their fourth spot in the league safe for now. Alavés go home to lick their wounds, but with games against Real Madrid, Real Sociedad and Barcelona coming up they must not be looking forward to the next few weeks. Mané must be thinking of signing on the dotted line at Depor before the ship sinks from under him. But there is still some life left yet in Irureta before that happens, if ever it does, despite the fact that this was his 500th game as a first division manager.