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banner Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 22:15 GMT
Helveg strike sinks Deportivo
Milan's Paolo Maldini tackles Diego Tristan
Deportivo Coruna 0-1 AC Milan

A fierce drive by Danish midfielder Thomas Helveg in first half injury time earned AC Milan victory in Group B and consigned Deportivo to their first home defeat in Europe for two-and-a-half years.

To add to the Spanish side's troubles, they also now face heavy punishment from Uefa after a flag pole thrown from the crowd hit AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.

English referee Graham Poll had to intervene after 20 minutes when Abbiati was struck on the back of the neck.

The Italian was fit to continue after receiving attention from Milan staff and suffered no ill effects.

The person who threw the six foot flagpole was not detained but the club has said it will try to identify the culprit using its security cameras.

The Spanish press greeted the incident under the headline "What animal behaviour", and expect to see the club's Riazor Stadium closed for at least one match.

Ironically the last serious fan incident in the Champions League also involved Milan when they entertained Salzburg in 1994.

Salzburg's Austrian goalkeeper Konrad was struck by a bottle and the Italians subsequently had their stadium, the San Siro, closed for two matches.

Impregnable defence

On the pitch Deportivo began brightly, taking the game to the Italians.

Brazilian midfielder Emerson was in commanding form in midfield but the Spanish first division leaders were unable to take advantage of their domination.

The experienced Milan defence, directed impeccably by Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta, constantly frustrated the home side's attacks.

In one of Deportivo's few clear opportunities Djalminha cut open the Italian defence on 30 minutes but his shot was cleared off the line by defender Roque Junior.

Milan then delivered a hammer blow to the Spanish champions' morale with Helveg's well-struck drive.

Deportivo threw caution to the wind after the break, but Milan soaked up the pressure and looked dangerous on the break with Andriy Shevchenko going close on several occasions.

Deportivo la Coruna: Molina, Manuel Pablo, Romero, Naybet, Mauro Silva, Diego, Djalminha, Turu Flores (Makaay 56), Emerson (Scaloni 80), Victor (Fernando 69), Donato.
Subs not used: Songo'o, Cesar, Cesar Sampaio, Valeron.

AC Milan: Abbiati, Helveg (Guly 90), Maldini, Costacurta, Shevchenko, Gattuso, Boban (Giunti 68), Jose Mari (Serginho 81), Ambrosini, Roque Junior, Coco.
Subs not used: Dida, Leonardo, Bierhoff, Sala.

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

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