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Spanish champions Deportivo La Coruña came from 1-0 behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain FC 3-1 in the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris in a seesaw UEFA Champions League Second Group-Match Stage encounter.
A muted first half performance from Deportivo saw them trailing to a Jimmy Algerino strike. However the introduction of Dutch striker Roy Makaay midway through the second half sparked a sensational comeback. Goals from Nourredine Naybet, José Oscar Turu Flores and Makaay himself sealed a mightily impressive comeback which preserved Deportivo's unbeaten record in this season's competition.
The first-half has a dizzying affair devoid of precision and, at times, technique, but chock-full of committment and passion. PSG were undoubtedly the side who wrested the early initiative as they looked to launch attacks by playing the ball quickly to feet and then utilise the pace of Laurents Robert and Leroy and 'Christian' Correa Dionisio.
A wonderful wonderful through pass by Frédéric Déhu set the early tone as Leroy burst clear of the Deportivo defence and homed in on goal only to be halted by an offside flag.
Four minutes later and a rapid-fire sequence of short passes between Christian and Pierre Ducrocq saw PSG slice through the Deportivo midfield once again. The ball made its way to Leroy however his low shot shot was scuffed well wide.
Moments of such technical coherence were few and far between though as both sides became embroilled in a war of attrition in which mis-placed or overhit passes were the norm. PSG poured forward, though with little shape, while Deportivo were content to maraud on the break.
Robert a threat
Robert was a constant threat down the left flank and his battles with Deportivo full-back García Díaz Manuel Pablo were proving compulsive viewing. On 11 minutes, the French international beat his man and surged down the right, before producing a swerving cross which was accidentally knocked high and goalwards by Nourredine Naybet. José Francisco Molina was forced to punch over the bar and also had to dive to save a Christian header from the resulting corner.
A thrilling five-minute spell ensued as the two sides swapped attacks with abandon. Diego Tristán twisted and turned in the PSG box before the French side hacked clear and released Robert whose wickedly swerving shot flew just wide of Molina's right-hand post.
For the most part though PSG were controlling the play as Deportivo struggled to supply the isolated Diego Tristán with any sort of service. On 35 minutes Paris Saint-Germain were unfortunate not to take the lead, when Christian sent a thunderbolt of a right-footed shot swerving just wide of Molina's left-hand post from a full 25 metres out. Two minutes later, PSG took the lead with a far more innocuous effort when stand-in skipper Jimmy Algerino let rip from the right-hand side and his low but stoppable shot slithered under the body of an embarrassed José Francisco Molina.
Deportivo had shown so little evidence of attacking thrust in the first half that a second half comeback scarcely seemed conceivable, especially when they still trailed on the hour after failing to mount any concerted second half attacks or create any clearcut chances.
Makaay enters the fray
However, the introduction of Roy Makaay on 62 minutes seemed to change all that. The Dutch striker won a corner two minutes later which was driven in high and dangerously. Sylvain Distin failed to clear and the ball fell to the unmarked defender Naybet on the far post. The Moroccan made no mistake is smashing his right-footed drive past Lionel Letizi and into the net.
Having gone level, Deportivo visibly grew in confidence and acres of space suddenly began to appear in a nervy PSG defence. Makaay looked sure to give the Spanish side the lead when he shrugged off the attentions of Frédéric Déhu to home in on goal on 68 minutes. Somehow though Letizi tipped his chipped shot around the post.
Delaying the inevitable
The outstanding save only served to delay the inevcitable though and, on 70 minutes, Deportivo took the lead. The reinvigorated José Oscar Turu Flores dashed down the left before skimming past Algerino and blasting the ball past Letizi at his near post from an acute angle.
Visibly shell-shocked by the contrast between the ferocity of Deportivo's second-half performance and the meekness of their play in the first period, PSG were now firmly on the back foot. A couple of imaginative long-range efforts from Augustine Okocha briefly raised the home fans' hopes, but Makaay, whose substitution had acted as the catalyst for his side's comeback, killed off all hope for the Parisians in injury time. Sánchez del Amo Victor's simple through pass caught the Paris defence flat and the Dutchman strolled through the middle of four men before rounding Letizi and tapping the ball into an empty net.