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Milan stun Deportivo

Simon Evans in Milan | March 24, 2004 12:18 IST

European champions AC Milan scored four goals in nine minutes to take a giant step towards the Champions League semi-finals with a crushing 4-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna in Milan on Tuesday.

The Spaniards went ahead 11 minutes into the quarter-final first-leg match thanks to Walter Pandiani's header before Milan struck four times around the interval to turn the tie round completely.

The Italians drew level on the stroke of halftime with a superbly executed goal from Brazilian Kaka and found the net three times in the opening eight minutes of the second half.

Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko put Milan ahead 20 seconds after the restart, and another clinical finish from Kaka and a superb 25-metre free kick from midfielder Andrea Pirlo completed the blitz.

It was a stunning display from the Serie A leaders who look firm favourites for a place in the last four where they are likely to face Porto, who beat Olympique Lyon 2-0 in their first-leg match in Portugal.

Deportivo reached the quarter-finals by beating Serie A champions Juventus and had lost only one of their last six games in Italy, but they were left shell-shocked by Milan's devastating finishing.

The night began in the best possible fashion for Javier Irureta's side when they took advantage of unusually slack Italian defending. From a short corner Joan Capdevila crossed from the left and Pandiani rose above a stationary Milan defence to power home a header.

A precious away goal so early in the game put real pressure on Milan who were forced to push forward in numbers while the Spaniards threatened on the break.

Milan's Brazilian pairing combined for an opening in the 17th minute when Cafu crossing from the right and Kaka fired wide from a tight angle at the back post.

Then Clarence Seedorf went close with a thundering 20-metre drive and Shevchenko might have done better with a glancing header from a Giuseppe Pancaro cross.

At the other end it was the hugely impressive Juan Valeron who caused problems for the Milan defence and the Deportivo playmaker created an opening in the 26th minute, jinking past three men before Alberto Luque shot wide.

It was end to end football and Deportivo keeper Jose Molina had to be out swiftly to foil Filippo Inzaghi as Milan piled on the pressure.


Just before the break Milan levelled thanks to that Brazilian combination once again.

Cafu crossed from the right and the 21-year-old Kaka showed his class by taking the ball down on his thigh and in the same movement volleying into the bottom corner.

Within moments of the restart Shevchenko lost Jorge Andrade and Mauro Silva before bursting into the area to fire a low shot past a helpless Molina.

Kaka made it 3-0 with another cracking finish, driving a low shot into the bottom corner after being set up on the edge of the area by Seedorf.

An incredible opening to the second half was completed with a swerving 25-metre free kick from Pirlo to make it 4-1.

Despite the scoreline Deportivo knew another away goal would give them a fighting chance and they went close on several occasions.

Pandiani headed over from Luque's cross in the 67th minute and Dida did well to keep out a Fran shot and another Pandiani header.

Four minutes from the end, though, Kaka could have crowned his outstanding display with a hat-trick but he blasted over from a good position.

However, few Milan fans were in a mood to complain.

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