TRISTAN'S MAGIC SAVES DEPOR

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THE SPANISH league title race was kept open on Saturday as Deportivo came back from the death to grab a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid thanks to a spectacular 84th minute equaliser by Diego Tristan.

In a breath-taking game at the Riazor, Depor somehow found themselves 2-0 down at half-time in a game they dominated from start to finish.

After a bright start from both sides, Real took the lead in the sixth minute when Michel Salgado got free on the right and fired in a wicked cross.

Former Newcastle defender Helder could only watch in horror as his attempted defensive header flew past Jacques Songo'o and into the roof of the net, for a very unfortunate own goal.

Depor stormed back but found visiting keeper Iker Casillas, who should face England on Wednesday, in top form.

Only Roy Makaay will know how he missed an 11th minute chance to equalise, as Brazilian magician Djalminha (pictured) mesmerised Fernando Hierro on the right edge of the box.

Hierro was completely undone by Djalminha's box of tricks and the Brazilian crashed a shot against the post which rebounded out to Makaay.

The Dutch international tried to side-foot the ball home but blazed the ball over from four yards out with an empty net gaping.

Fran was the next to criminally miss out, as with a quarter of an hour gone, Manuel Pablo got free on the right to deliver a perfect cross which the midfield star tamely headed straight into Casillas' midriff.

Depor piled on the pressure only for Real to finish the second half 2-0 when Mauro Silva seemed to put in a superb challenge on Guti, only for his trailing leg to catch the Real player after he had taken the ball.

The referee pointed to the spot, to the home side's amazement, although with Guti on a one-on-one with Songo'o and Silva's challenge from behind, he did not show the defender a card of any colour.

Luis Figo surprisingly stepped up to take the penalty and with a couple of stutters completely fooled Songo'o to make it 2-0.

Just seven minutes into the second half and Figo was the culprit in giving the home side a way back into the match, when he brought down Djalminha in the box.

Figo slid through on the Brazilian and a penalty was the only possible result, Djalminha picked himself up to cheekily chip the ball into the right hand corner of the net, leaving Casillas a bemused bystander.

The turning point of the match came in the 58th minute when Guti sprinted clear on the left and delivered a perfect cross for the onrushing Raul.

The star striker met the cross well enough, however, Songo'o spread himself on the line and amazingly blocked the close-range effort.

It looked as though it would not be Depor's day when a 68th minute free-kick from Donato beat Casillas but crashed against the bar and a Djalminha free-kick was headed against the post by Silva.

Throwing caution to the wind, in the final quarter of an hour the home side went with three strikers which paid off handsomely with six minutes remaining.

Tristan wriggled free in the box and with little room, curled a superb effort around two defenders and into the corner of the net.