Hamburger SV were unable to get the win they needed to have any chance of staying in the UEFA Champions League, as they drew 1-1 with a below-strength Deportivo La Coruña at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg.
A goal from Dutch substitute Roy Makaay was enough to earn the visitors a valuable away point and eliminate the hosts, but Hamburg do now enter the UEFA Cup, having finished third in Group E.
Hamburg were well on top from the start as Deportivo, missing several stars, played like a side that had already qualified for the next stage. Mauro Silva, Campos César Sampaio and Sánchez del Amo Victor were all left on the bench, as Head Coach Javier Irureta opted for a balance of youth and experience.
Keeper José Francisco Molina had to be alert, as he rushed out to deny the on-rushing Anthony Yeboah. Stig Tøfting's also went close with a long range effort, before Sergej Barbarez's cross-cum-shot was well gathered by the busy Molina.
The home side took the lead in the 10th minute, when Iranian midfielder Mehdi Mahdavikia saw his chip deflected over a helpess Molina. It was no more than they deserved, after an opening spell that saw them attacking at will. Deportivo struggled to marshall the lively Yeboah, while Barbarez proved a constant threat as he broke from midfield. Jan Hoogma almost doubled Hamburg's lead on the half hour mark, but his 20 metre effort came back off the post and rebounded to safety.
Chances for the visitors were few and far between, but Juan Carlos Santana Valeron did see his shot blocked on the line by Barbarez, before sending a dipping volley just over the Hamburg bar.
The second half saw Deportivo make two key substitutions, as César Sampaio and Makaay were both introduced into the action. The changes seemed to increase the Spanish side's passion, and chances came thick and fast. García Díaz Manuel Pablo went close, while Valeron did finally
put the ball in the Hamburg net, but his fine finish was ruled out for offside. Deportivo were rewarded on in the 58th minute, when fifteen minute of incessant pressure finally told.
Hamburg keeper Hans-Jörg Butt, anonymous for most of the tie, made a fantastic double save from César Sampaio but was unable to stop MaKaay turning the ball home from 2 metres. The hosts pushed forward for a winner, but Deportivo had got the goal they wanted and proceeded
to take the sting out of the game. Hamburg found it increasingly difficult to break through the visitors defence, and it was Deportivo who almost snatched a winer. Butt had to be at his athletic best to deny Makaay, as he burst into the box.
Despite late appeals for a penalty, after Helder appeared to handle, Hamburg fell just short of what was required to win this thrilling match and must now try their luck in the UEFA Cup Third Round. Deportivo did what was necessary, earning a valuable away point, against a side who put up a brave fight. The Spanish side are looking good, and will fancy their chances in the next stage.