By Fergus O'Shea at the Riazor
A Jorge Andrade own goal gave Liverpool FC their first win in Spain for 21 years and enhanced their chances of progressing from Group A while placing RC Deportivo La Coruña's own future in the UEFA Champions League in serious doubt.
Despite not having scored in Europe this season, Deportivo entered tonight's fixture on the back of a six-match unbeaten run. Sergio González returned from suspension to start along with Héctor Berenguel in the absence through injury of influential defender Manuel Pablo García and the veteran Maura Silva. Another change in coach Javier Irureta's 4-2-3-1 formation saw the more experienced Enrique Romero replace Joan Capdevilla at full-back.
Having lost Djibril Cissé to a broken leg for the season in the weekend draw at Blackburn Rovers FC and with Florent Sinama-Pongolle still not fully recovered from an ankle injury, Liverpool coach Rafa Benítez played Harry Kewell off Milan Baroš. With Xabi Alonso only fit enough to start from the bench, Igor Bišcan lined up in central midfield. The Croatian made an immediate impact, sending the ball over the top with less than a minute played for Baroš who was unable to dribble around José Molina.
The chance set the tone for an exciting half, with fans from both clubs creating a frenzied atmosphere inside the Riazor. Depor brought their faithful to their feet in the seventh minute when Sergio, in space 20 metres from goal, unleashed a ferocious strike that fizzed narrowly wide of Chris Kirkland's right-hand post. Yet it was Liverpool who struck first following a fine run from Bišcan.
The midfielder beat two men and fed John Arne Riise who delivered a low cross which was turned in by home defender Jorge Andrade under pressure from Baroš, who appeared keen to claim the goal from two metres. Despite conceding their 100th goal in UEFA competitions and their first at the Riazor in the Champions League since December 2002, Depor were soon back on the attack. Within two minutes Walter Pandiani had a chance to level only to allow the ball to escape him on a greasy surface.
As half-time approached, Andrade atoned for his own goal with a goalline clearance which prevented the Reds from establishing a two-goal advantage. Riise orchestrated the attack, breaking free down the left and releasing a rasping drive - from an identical position from where he scored at Ewood Park at the weekend - which the Portuguese defender did well to clear with Molina beaten.
Having struggled to cope with the threat of Baroš in the first period, central defender César Martín was substituted in favour of Pablo Amo. The replacement almost came good at the opposite end in the 53rd minute as he came within a whisker of heading in Albert Luque's free-kick. Moments earlier Luque had gone close himself, drilling in a low drive which Kirkland initially fumbled before recovering as Víctor Sánchez ominously closed in.
Benítez reacted by replacing Kewell with Steve Finnan, a defender who added numbers to the Liverpool midfield. With a little over 30 minutes to play, Diego Tristán - the man who had scored all of Depor's last three goals - replaced the largely ineffective Pandiani, although the striker could not make his mark. Last year's semi-finalists pressed in search of an equalizer but a snapshot from Juan Carlos Valerón, which curled over from 20 metres, was the closest they came.
Moments earlier Andrade's night had gone from bad to worse as he collected a booking which means he is suspended for the Matchday 5 game against Olympiacos CFP - a fixture Depor must win.