Santa Cruz had Tuesday’s best chance against Espanyol. :: EFE
Malaga clawed back some pride on Tuesday evening by picking up a point in a tricky away trip to Espanyol following a disastrous home fixture against Celta Vigo the previous Saturday. The Blue and Whites welcome Betis at La Rosaleda on Sunday.
The improved performance puts an at least temporary stop to a run of results which has seen Malaga drop quickly down the table, with the poor performances crescendoing in last Saturday’s 5-0 home defeat to Celta. Tuesday’s 0-0 draw to Catalan team Espanyol will keep Bernd Schuster’s stumbling young side out of the relegation zone at least until the weekend. Sunday’s home game will see them face Betis in what could ultimately prove to be a relegation ‘six-pointer’.
Saturday’s 5-0 defeat at home to Celta Vigo confirmed that problems lay deeper in Schuster’s team than initially thought. A narrow defeat at home to Osasuna and an almost inevitable away defeat to Madrid won’t have caused too much concern within the Malaga management team but this five-goal demolition gifted by dreadful defending left Malaga’s season perilously close to derailing.
The rout began as early as the fifth minute with Álex López placing a shot into the bottom corner after finding sufficient space from just outside the penalty area, despite being surrounded by four Malaga players. Malaga’s poor start continued when Celta added another goal just over 15 minutes later with Augusto Fernández this time taking advantage of poor defending. Antunes failed to hook away a cross leaving Fernández the space to half-volley past a static Willy Caballero.
Celta Vigo’s continued dominance rewarded midfield López with his second of the game in the 64th minute, after another display of comic Malaga defending, López finally nodding into the empty goal at the third time of asking. A fourth and fifth were later added by Nolito and Charles to extinguish any hope of an unlikely Malaga comeback.
While the run of consecutive defeats was stopped, Malaga extended their goaless drought to four games after failing to find the back of the net away at Espanyol.
Tuesday did see a much improved performance from Schuster’s side however, with Malaga just about edging the chances at the Cornellá. Santa Cruz and Eliseu both hit the bar, the former having the easier opportunity, with Espanyol keeper Casilla well-beaten following the strike from an Antunes cut back. Espanyol did have their chances however, with a crucial stop made by Caballero late on one-on-one with Sergio García and a goalmouth scramble seeing the ball poked just wide being the best of the hosts’ opportunities.
Schuster seemed pleased following the game saying, “I much appreciate the reaction of the team,” adding that his team have regained some of their confidence following the draw.