PSG stunned as Pandiani-inspired Depor rise again

Estadio Municipal de Riazor, La Coruna – 07/03/2001 – Second group-match stage
Pandiani 57, 76, 84 Tristán 60
4 - 3
  • Okocha 29
  • Laurent Leroy 43, 55
Back from the brink

"The coach's decision to bring me on was the key to the match." Walter Pandiani


• With seven goals Raúl González became the first player to finish UEFA Champions League top scorer twice having shared the honour with Mário Jardel (FC Porto) and Rivaldo (FC Barcelona) in 1999/2000.

• There were 63 goals in 16 games on Matchday 1 – a record for a single matchday – and by the time FC Bayern München beat Valencia CF in the final there had been 449 goals at an average of 2.86 per game.

• RC Deportivo La Coruña's quarter-final hopes looked over as they trailed Paris Saint-Germain FC 3-0 55 minutes into their second group stage meeting, but Walter Pandiani's hat-trick helped them through.

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.

Star players

  • Naybet

    A dominant, no holds-barred central defender, Naybet was the beating heart of RC Deportivo La Coruña's success around the turn of the millennium. In his eight seasons at the club, Deportivo won the Spanish Cup, finished Liga runners-up twice and, in 2000, captured the first championship of their 96-year history. A cup winner with Sporting Clube de Portugal in 1995, Naybet made almost 300 appearances at Depor before ending his career at Tottenham Hotspur FC.

  • Pandiani

    A powerful striker who always posed an aerial threat, Pandiani at times evoked a bulldozer more than his 'El Rifle' nickname. He spent much of his career in Spain, joining RC Deportivo La Coruña in 2000 after winning the title in his native Uruguay. Pandiani saved his best for knockout competitions, winning the Spanish Cup with three clubs and finishing as the 11-goal top scorer as RCD Espanyol were runners-up in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup. Surprisingly, he was capped just four times.

  • Okocha

    A playmaker of prodigious skill and talent, Okocha was "so good they named him twice" according to a popular chant at Bolton Wanderers FC. He made his name at Eintracht Frankfurt and wowed crowds during spells in Turkey, France, England and Qatar, but major club honours eluded him. At international level it was another matter as Okocha helped Nigeria to 1994 Africa Cup of Nations success and Olympic gold in Atlanta.

What happened next?

• RC Deportivo La Coruña held AC Milan 1-1 to pip the Italian side to a place in the last eight, where they lost 3-2 on aggregate against Leeds United AFC after losing the first leg 3-0.

• Depor finished runners-up to Real Madrid CF in the Liga, as they did the following season, but after back-to-back third places they suffered a decline, and in 2010/11 were relegated.

• Paris Saint-Germain FC managed just eight points from their final six games to finish ninth in Ligue 1, behind the likes of CS Sedan-Ardennes, ES Troyes AC and SC Bastia.

• Three weeks after his hat-trick against PSG, Walter Pandiani made his international debut in a 1-0 defeat against Paraguay. He would represent Uruguay just four times, without scoring.

• Deportivo mounted another famous comeback three years later as, trailing Milan 4-1 after the first leg of their quarter-final tie, an early Pandiani goal set them on course for a 4-0 home win.

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