By Mark Bennett at the Philips stadium
RC Deportivo La Coruña reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League despite going down to a dramatic late 3-2 defeat against PSV Eindhoven.
Hope for PSV
Qualification for the last 16 of the tournament was a real possibility for PSV at the break, when they were leading 2-0 - the scoreline they needed to progress in Europe's showpiece competition. But Alberto Luque sparked a second-half revival for the away side, pulling a goal back before feeding substitute Uruguayan striker Walter Pandiani to collect his third goal of the tournament. John de Jong's winner was too little, too late for PSV.
PSV coach Guus Hiddink was boosted by the news that André Ooijer had passed a late fitness test on his knee before the game and adopted a 4-3-1-2 formation, while his Deportivo counterpart, Javier Irureta, looked to a 4-4-1-1 system which included the returning Nourredine Naybet in the centre of defence.
PSV were eager to stamp their authority from the outset and after four minutes Wilfred Bouma was handed the first chance. The defender was left unmarked after a corner from Arjen Robben, but his header failed to trouble Depor goalkeeper José Molina. The away side were content to sit tight at the back and wait for their chances on the break.
In the 14th minute PSV scored the early goal they craved. A well-worked one-two with Ji-Sung Park was enough for the outstanding Robben to break into the area. He was robbed of possession by the Spanish defence, but the ball fell for De Jong, whose powerfully-struck shot went in off the post.
After falling behind, the Galician team attacked with more vigour and the tactics almost paid off. In the 19th minute, Sergio González fired his shot from outside the area over the bar and one minute later Portugal centre-back Jorge Andrade was denied an equaliser by a marvellous fingertip save from Ronald Waterreus.
PSV remained dangerous and almost doubled their lead in the 32nd minute. The outstanding Robben again impressed with his pace down the left, this time crossing perfectly for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, but the striker directed his header wide, leaving his side needing another goal after the break.
And the crucial score arrived at the beginning of the second half. A mix-up in the Spanish defence permitted Robben to gather the ball in the area and dodge a tackle before calmly slotting his shot past Molina. The goal precipitated action from Irureta, who sent on Alberto Luque - who was on target for Depor in the 1-0 defeat of Málaga CF at the weekend - for Sergio. The striker made an immediate impression, drilling in a long range free-kick which proved too strong for the Dutch shot-stopper.
At this stage PSV already had their work cut out but there was no way back when Walter Pandiani managed to get himself on the end of Luque’s assist from inside the box in the 83rd minute. De Jong was on target again in the final moments after good work from Kezman but PSV’s chance had already been and gone and Hiddink’s charges will now compete in the UEFA Cup.