Samu celebrates his masterfully taken goal that put Malaga 1-0 up. :: CARLOS MORET
Malaga’s second away win of the campaign could not have come at a better time for Bernd Schuster, following increasing tension between the former Real Madrid manager and fans.
Schuster introduced two significant changes, replacing the out-of-form Sergio Sánchez and Tissone with Flávio and Sergi Darder.
The hosts started brightly and had a number of promising chances. As a unit Malaga were determined to halt the advances of Osasuna with a solid defensive display. Caballero came to the rescue early on with an unorthodox double save.
The breakthrough, however, came for the Blue and Whites as Amrabat found himself on the left flank and slowly made his way towards the area with his trademark trickery. The Moroccan international spotted the clever diagonal run of Samu and played a perfectly-dinked ball between the Osasuna defence that was masterfully lobbed over a helpless Andrés by the Spanish winger.
Malaga immediately pressed for a second with a strong headed attempt from Santa Cruz; there was interesting interplay which made a refreshing change from recent performances. Both teams had plenty of chances with Osasuna hitting the post.
After the break the momentum seemed to swing in favour of the hosts as Jesús Gámez picked up his second yellow card after a clumsy aerial challenge. Malaga would have to play the majority of the second half with ten men.
Schuster restructured accordingly and Malaga’s front men were struggling to chase the ball and obtain possession. Midway through the second half Caballero managed to block an almost certain own goal by Flávio with an instinctive save.
Amrabat’s persistence paid off in the 66th minute as he managed to regain possession on the edge of the Osasuna penalty area. Santa Cruz played a delightful through ball that was struck into the bottom corner by the on-loan winger. In spite of going against the run of play, it was a clinical goal that gave the visitors a degree of comfort for the final stages of the game.
Nonetheless, Osasuna continued to push for a goal and could have easily scored two or three in the closing minutes. Malaga were incredibly lucky not to concede. Caballero had a spectacular performance and once again came to the rescue on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, Samu is increasingly showing his potential for becoming a key player for the future; with his goal he is now the team’s joint second highest goalscorer.
Thanks to their superior goal difference, the win propels Malaga up to 13th place in the league. Schuster gave his opinion of the match: “Tonight luck has been an influence, a luck that we have not had in previous matches, a luck that other teams have had when facing us.”