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Depor crack stubborn Shelbourne

Tuesday, 24 August 2004

By Fergus O'Shea at the Riazor

[1] Shelbourne FC had their UEFA Champions League dreams dashed as three second-half goals sent RC Deportivo La Coruña side through to the group stage of the competition.

Battling display

[2] A brilliant first-half display by the Irish team meant the tie remained goalless at the three-quarter stage, but two Víctor Sánchez goals in the second period and a third by Walter Pandiani finally ended Shelbourne's resistance.

Unchanged lineup

[3] The home side were able to field an unchanged team from the first leg, although captain Fran and Spanish international striker Diego Tristán were still missing through injury. Shelbourne manager Pat Fenlon made only one change, with right-sided midfield player Joseph Ndo given his first start in Europe.

First-half control

[4] In front of an unusually subdued Riazor crowd, Shelbourne produced a fine first 45 minutes, with Deportivo showing little of the form that had seen them eliminate holders AC Milan with a stunning 4-0 victory in the quarter-finals of last season's competition. Pre-season rustiness and nerves were all evident from the Galician team, and although they started purposefully, the visitors visibly grew in confidence as the half wore on.

Headed opportunity

[5] In a half of limited chances, the most clear-cut fell to the visitors after 24 minutes as pacy winger Ollie Cahill swung a cross in from the left and although it found Jason Byrne unmarked, the striker's header lacked conviction.

Deportivo breakthrough

[6] Deportivo began the second half in determined mood and pressed the visitors back, with Pandiani narrowly missing with a header from Sergio's 57th-minute free-kick. With the pressure taking its toll, the home side duly opened the scoring two minutes later as Wes Houlihan lost the ball to Víctor and the Deportivo forward ran 20 metres unopposed and found the bottom corner of the net.

Stunning second

[7] It was Víctor's second goal for which the night will be remembered, however, as he doubled the home side's lead six minutes past the hour, picking up the ball around 20 metres from goal and unleashing a wondrous strike that left goalkeeper Stephen Williams clutching at air.

Near miss

[8] Deportivo continued to press, although Shelbourne striker Jason Byrne might have brought the Irish side back into contention with 15 minutes left only for his lob to drift centimetres wide.

Late third

[9] The Spanish side completed a hard-earned win two minutes from time as Pandiani scored a third, finding the corner of the net with a well-struck free-kick from the corner of the penalty area. The game ended sourly for Shelbourne with midfield player Alan Moore collecting his second yellow card for a tackle on Jorge Andrade.

Shelbourne's David Crawley (left) tries to tackle Manuel Pablo of Deportivo