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Determined Depor frustrate Liverpool

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

By Jonathan Caswell at Anfield

[1] Despite a dominant display, Liverpool FC were unable to take advantage of a number of chances against RC Deportivo La Coruña and were forced to settle for a point as their UEFA Champions League Group A game ended scoreless.

Unbeatable Molina

[2] Rafael Benítez's team were in control throughout the match and played with attacking verve, but were unable to find a way past Deportivo goalkeeper José Molina, who was in superlative form. The result leaves Liverpool third in the section with four points, two more than their Galician opponents, but two less than leaders AS Monaco FC.

Alonso starts

[3] Xabi Alonso's introduction at Fulham FC in Saturday's Premiership game had inspired Liverpool to turn round a 2-0 half-time deficit to win 4-2 and the Spanish midfield player duly started here in place of Salif Diao. Javier Irureta, meanwhile, made three changes, with Víctor Sánchez, Albert Luque and Mauro Silva coming into the starting lineup.

Rapid start

[4] The match began at frenetic pace, with a series of free-kicks preventing either side from establishing their rhythm early on. It was the home team who settled first, picking up the momentum they had generated in the second half at Fulham and a number of searing runs from Czech international striker Milan Baroš made inroads into the Deportivo defence.

Liverpool pressure

[5] The first real chance of the game came in the 17th minute, as Luis García picked the ball up in his own half and exchanged passes with Baroš. The ball was then cleverly worked to Djibril Cissé in space, but the French forward's shot was deflected behind. The home side came even closer to breaking through eight minutes later, Djimi Traoré and García working space for Baroš down the right. The forward's low cross was met first time by Cissé, but Molina reacted smartly to keep the scoresheet blank.

Saving tackle

[6] With Liverpool in complete command a goal looked certain and Baroš then had a golden opportunity to make the pressure tell. Great link-up play between Garciá and Cissé released the Czech striker, who rounded Molina only to be denied by a desperate last-ditch tackle by Manuel Pablo.

Reaction stop

[7] García then failed to convert another presentable opportunity to break the deadlock as Alonso's powerful long-range strike struck a defender and broke perfectly for the Spanish forward, but Molina reacted brilliantly to deflect his shot over the crossbar. Baroš continued to look the most likely scorer, however, flashing a shot wide shortly before the interval after a surging run.

Depor warning

[8] Liverpool began the second half where they had left off in the first, García glancing Alonso's free-kick just wide. Roared on by a near-capacity Anfield crowd, Liverpool continued to probe down the flanks, but there was a warning for the home side on the hour as Víctor Sánchez found space on the right to send in a cross that fell tantalisingly out of the reach of Juan Carlos Valerón. At the other end Harry Kewell, on for John Arne Riise, skipped down the left and crossed to the back post for Cissé to control and shoot but again, Molina was equal to the task.

Stout defending

[9] When Deportivo did manage to break free of their own half, their forwards found Liverpool's back line immovable, with Jamie Carragher and captain Sami Hyypiä outstanding. The home side threw everything forward in search of the three points in the closing stages, Kewell, Alonso and Dietmar Hamann going close late on but Deportivo held firm. The two sides next meet at the Riazor on 3 November.

Djibril Cissé (right) puts Jorge Andrade under pressure