By Aidan Fitzmaurice at Lansdowne Road
Shelbourne FC rose to the occasion to hold UEFA Champions League regulars RC Deportivo La Coruña in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie.
A full house of 24,000 saw Shelbourne, who last week eliminated HNK Hajduk Split, more than match their illustrious opponents to give themselves a chance in the return on 24 August.
Moment of danger
Neither goalkeeper was too stretched but the best opportunities fell to the home team, only for a mixture of nervousness and good saves to prevent the jovial crowd becoming euphoric. However, it was Deportivo who created the first real moment of danger on 16 minutes when Víctor Sánchez whipped in a dangerous cross, only for Jorge Andrade to prove unable to get on the end of it.
This was the exception rather than the rule though, as Shelbourne held the ball up well and refused to allow the visitors the space that they sought. While the Irish champions' forward line was kept under wraps for large swathes of the game, Wesley Hoolahan was a constant threat often forcing Enrique Romero on the retreat.
On 39 minutes it was a pass by Hoolahan that led to the best chance of the half when he threaded the ball to Owen Heary whose right-wing centre sat up beautifully for Jason Byrne, but the forward panicked and failed to connect.
As the second half got under way, it looked as if the home side could regret the miss, with Deportivo finally getting a strong foothold on the game. Sergio González had an early chance when he was set up by Albert Luque but his shot went wide and seconds later Shelbourne captain Heary came to the rescue with a crunching tackle to deny Walter Pandiani after a slip by Jamie Harris.
With pressure mounting, Shelbourne manager Patrick Fenlon sought to shake his team up and brought on Cameroonian international Joseph Ndo on 62 minutes and his class revitalised the side. Four minutes later Oliver Cahill went on a superb run before shooting narrowly wide and Shelbourne had their best effort of the game with 15 minutes remaining when Moore got his head to a clever cross by Hoolahan, but Gustavo Munúa - who had earlier replaced the injured José Molina - saved well.
Desperate to come away with a goal, Deportivo pressed in the dying moments and Pandiani had a couple of efforts but failed to hit the target as Shelbourne secured a famous draw. The Riazor and Diego Tristán - who was suspended for this leg - await the Irish in two weeks time.
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