MALLORCA LET SLIP A 3-0 ADVANTAGE TO SLIP AWAY WITH A 3-2 VICTORY

KING'S Cup holders Deportivo Coruna suffered a setback in their bid to retain their crown after they were handed a 3-2 home defeat by Real Mallorca in their semi-final first leg match at the Riazor on Wednesday night. It could have been far worse, though, for Javier Irureta's team, who trailed 3-0 to Real Mallorca with just a minute of normal time left on the clock. A well-taken double from former Deportivo striker Walter Pandiani and a fine finish from Cameroon forward Samuel Eto'o had appeared to set the islanders comfortably on their way to the final. But an 89th minute penalty from Diego Tristan and an injury time strike from Roy Makaay were enough to keep the Galician side's hopes of winning the competition for the second year in succession alive. The game, which had been delayed for 15 minutes because of floodlight failure, began in cagey fashion with both sides spending most of the first quarter sizing each other up. The Galicians had the better of the possession, but appeared content to push the ball around the midfield and in the face of the home side's lack of ambition it was the islanders who decided to take the initiative. The deadlock was eventually broken six minutes from the break when Pandiani sent a powerful header past the sprawling Juanmi after he had stolen a march on the Depor defence who had been wrong-footed by a deflected cross from midfielder Alvaro Novo. Depor coach Javier Irureta spiced up his attack at the start of the second half with the addition of the league's leading scorer Roy Makaay, but it was Mallorca who continued to look more dangerous. Novo sent a 20-metre drive thundering onto the post after he had outpaced the Depor defence and Juanmi had to produce a fine reflex save to deny Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o seconds later. But it was Pandiani, who was loaned out to the islanders by Deportivo at the start of the season, who eventually extended the Mallorca lead nine minutes from time when he volleyed home a classy Ibagaza cross from close range. Depor were still recovering from the shock when they were hit once again as Eto'o drilled home a minute later after Albert Riera had slotted in a fine cross from the left. It all looked over for Deportivo, but, just as the islanders were preparing to celebrate a famous victory, Tristan was awarded a penalty after going to ground in the area a minute before time. The Spanish international duly converted the spot kick and then played a decisive part in helping his side grab an even later second goal when he threaded a fine pass behind the Mallorca defence for Makaay to poke home at the far post with the last kick of the game. The other semi-final between first division basement club Recreativo Huelva and Osasuna was played last night.

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