"The coach's decision to bring me on was the key to the match." Walter Pandiani
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Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The prognosis looked dire for RC Deportivo La Coruña 55 minutes into their clash with Paris Saint-Germain FC as they trailed 3-0, but a hat-trick from substitute Walter Pandiani helped provide a miracle cure as the Spanish side secured a famous 4-3 victory.
The remedy had begun to be administered during the interval, when trailing to a deflected strike from Jay-Jay Okocha and a superb effort from Laurent Leroy, Depor coach Javier Irureta gave his players the silent treatment. "For the first five or six minutes of half-time I just let the players sit in silence," he explained. "That gave them time to just think over their performance, to engage in a bit of self-analysis. Then I had a few minutes left to talk about the game, as I explained that we had to fight to get back and win."
Irureta's medicine did not work immediately – Leroy made it 3-0 after restart with another fine goal – but the players got the message in the end as a furious spell of attacking football brought four goals in 27 minutes. A bullet header from Pandiani on 57 minutes put them back in touch and three minutes later a near-post header from Diego Tristán, his first touch of the ball, made it 3-2. The roof of the Riazor was raised: the race to join Galatasaray AŞ in advancing from Group B was well and truly on.
With 14 minutes remaining they were neck-and-neck as Pandiani capitalised on a brilliant flick-on from Roy Makaay before edging Depor in front by completing his hat-trick of headers with six minutes to go, expertly diverting in a corner in at the near post. PSG's quarter-final ambitions were over; Depor moved up to second, knowing a point in their final game at AC Milan the following week would take them through. In such rude health, they did not disappoint.