Wed, Apr 07, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Deportivo has back against the wall in Europe's semifinals


Deportivo de La Coruna bids for a minor miracle today as it seeks to overcome a three-goal deficit against European champion AC Milan and reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time.

Despite a crushing 4-1 defeat in the quarterfinal first leg in Milan two weeks ago, Deportivo's players insist that the mammoth task is not beyond them.

"Scoring three goals against Milan will be tough, but we've done it on other occasions, so why can't we do it again?" Deportivo's Portuguese defender Jorge Andrade was quoted as saying by leading sports daily Marca yesterday.

Javier Irureta's team, which was knocked out its two previous Champions League quarterfinal appearances, hopes to recover the spirit of its most rousing comeback in a Champions League match three years ago.

Uruguayan striker Walter Pandiani hit three goals in the last 35 minutes as the team overturned a 3-0 deficit to beat Paris Saint-Germain 4-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the competition.

"I dream of repeating the hat-trick and giving people what they're asking me for," Pandiani was quoted as saying by sports daily As. "I know I can do it. We have to go at Milan like madmen from the very first minute."

Yet Pandiani, who opened the scoring two weeks ago before Deportivo caved in midway through the game, recognized the task of battling back against Carlo Ancelotti's side was a tough one.

"We need a goal in the first 15 minutes," Pandiani said. "Milan is deadly in attack and tries cool the match down -- everybody knows what the Italians are like. But we mustn't lose our concentration. What mustn't happen is for them to score because then it will be impossible."

Milan, nine points clear in the Italian league and bidding to lift Europe's most prestigious club competition for the seventh time, is feeling "calm and serene," according to its Danish striker Jon Dahl Tomasson.

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