Real Sociedad celebrate Carlos Vela’s goal while the home fans look on. :: SALVADOR SALAS
All Malaga’s immediate rivals in the table failed to pick up three points this gameweek, while their opponents, Real Sociedad, went into the match winning only one of their last five. This was as good a time as any for the Blue and Whites to climb away from the dangers of the relegation zone.
Malaga were undone early in the first half by a well-worked goal that was enough to separate the teams for the remainder of the match.
The home team rallied in the second half but lacked the final ball and were unable to breach their opponents’ goal. After last week’s collapse in Vallecas, which they deserved to lose, and last night’s struggle in La Rosaleda, which they should have at least drawn, the confidence of Schuster’s men must be faltering. Just like their previous match, Malaga conceded early on and their reaction came too late.
From minute one Malaga were playing very deep and struggling to push into La Real’s half. There was no ambition and the home team were seemingly content to pass the ball without threatening the opponents’ goal.
Schuster’s men were punished just ten minutes in. Following a neat exchange between José Ángel and Griezmann down the left wing, the Malaga defence was opened up and a simple pass from the edge of the area found its way to Carlos Vela who will not score many easier goals. Completely unmarked he side-footed into the bottom corner.
Malaga had calls for a penalty turned down midway through the half after Iakovenko collided mid-air with Íñigo Martínez. Aside from that there was little for the home fans to cheer about. The lack of touchline instructions, due to Schuster’s ban, was evident as the home players argued and seemed lost at times.
However, following the introduction of Duda at half time, the Blue and Whites sparked into life. There was a sense of urgency about their play and when Roque Santa Cruz was brought on it looked like a matter of time before they found an equaliser. The Paraguayan had two clear-cut chances in as many minutes but both were saved by Bravo.
Despite their efforts Malaga tired towards the end of the match. El Hamdaoui and Iakovenko ran too much chasing the ball. Amrabat, the home side’s most impressive player, was isolated and, understandably, quickly closed down by the team fromSan Sebastián which managed to hold out for an important three points in their battle for Champions League qualification.
Schuster gave his thoughts on Malaga’s performance: “We have not played well enough to win the game. During the first half we couldn’t do better than the slow speed at which the opposition played.”
Out of the 24 matches that Malaga have played in La Liga this season this was the 12th time that they have failed to score. This is worrying, considering the team lie just three points above the relegation zone.