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Depor aim for stylish finale

Published: Monday 17 March 2003, 20.59CET
Avoiding finshing at the bottom of Group B is top of RC Deportivo La Coruña's agenda.

Tournament statistics

DeportivoMan. United

Goals scored18
Attempts on target68
Attempts off target71
Fouls committed158
Yellow cards15
Red cards0

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Published: Monday 17 March 2003, 20.59CET

Depor aim for stylish finale

Avoiding finshing at the bottom of Group B is top of RC Deportivo La Coruña's agenda.

By Kevin Ashby

Having been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by a volleyed goal from a central defender in Italy last week, RC Deportivo La Coruña are left to play for pride rather than a place among the European élite when they take on the Group D winners, Manchester United FC, at a Riazor stadium likely to be lacking edge on Tuesday.

Dramatic exit
Were it not for the most dramatic of exits in Turin, where substitute Igor Tudor clinched a 3-2 victory for Juventus FC in added time, Javier Irureta would have been preparing to lead his side into a game which could have secured their passage to a third successive quarter-final. Instead, he was looking forward to a nice spectacle. "I think it is will be a very interesting match to enjoy," he said. "English footballers have always play their best regardless of the importance of the match."

Few answers
Yet again for the Galicians a campaign which promised so much has ended prematurely. Two goals up against Juve after eleven minutes of their opening second group stage game, Depor never recovered from the Italian champions' fightback and the subsequent defeat at Old Trafford, where they had few answers to United's constant teasing in a 2-0 success.

Sole victory
The Spanish side have recorded a solitary victory, at home to FC Basel, in five outings in the section to date. Another against United would at least ensure Deportivo avoid the ignominy of finishing bottom of the group.

Youth opportunities
However, Irureta is also keen to use the game as an opportunity to assess his goalkeeping options. Young Dani Mallo may start the game. "This match will help us to assess the level of our three goalkeepers," he said. "I think Dani is an example of footballer who has gained from being in the line-up"

Molina returns
The highlight of the evening could be provided by the return of José Molina to the European stage. Having beaten testicular cancer, the goalkeeper may play for the second time in four days having kept a clean sheet in Saturday's 2-0 victory against Rayo Vallecano. José Amavisca and Diego Tristán remain doubtful with foot injuries.

Beckham rested
United were also victorious on Saturday, seeing off Aston Villa FC courtesy of David Beckham's winning goal. Yet the England captain heads a list of rested talent including Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooij in addition to the injured Roy Keane and Juan Sebastián Verón. Like in last week's 1-1 home draw against Basel, Sir Alex Ferguson plans to use the match as an exercise in blooding promising talent.

'Strike a balance'
"It doesn't matter what first team game it is, you are always asking questions of a young player when you put them in," said the Scot, who included a quartet of players with no previous Champions League experience in the travelling party. "We will try to strike a balance between youth and experience but I shall be very interested to see how the young players go." For United, their campaign begins again in earnest at Friday's quarter-final draw.

Last updated: 18/03/03 22.18CET