Amrabat takes the ball past Xabi Alonso. :: ÑITO SALAS
Real Madrid went into Saturday’s game unbeaten in the league for 16 consecutive matches. It was, therefore, predicted that they would cruise past Malaga with ease. This was not the case; a first half goal from Ronaldo was enough to separate the teams and Malaga can be proud of their performance.
Real Madrid probably have Europe’s most in-form strike force in their ‘BBC’ (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) trio. All three started, no doubt to the dismay of the Malaga defence.
There was a lively start to the game with both teams creating chances. Antunes struck over the bar early on, while Bale had a penalty appeal turned down after being clumsily brought down by Angeleri.
The breakthrough came in the 23rd minute when Ronaldo received the ball on the edge of the box. It seemed like Malaga had enough players behind the ball to halt the Real attack. However, the Ballon d’Or winner managed to sidestep past three defenders and curl the ball past Caballero. The Portuguese forward has now netted 39 goals this season.
Malaga had limited chances after the goal, but were able to keep their composure. The game was evenly matched, although the visitors carried more of an attacking danger.
After the break, the Blue and Whites showed much more intention. It seemed like Real were not playing to their potential, perhaps being thwarted by the Malaga defence.
Former Malaga midfielder Isco had a clear-cut chance following a spectacular run by Di María. The 24 million euro player skied his shot over the bar. Not long after he was substituted to a standing ovation from the home fans.
Real should feel unlucky to not have been awarded a penalty after Bale was brought down again. Indeed, the referee made a series of bizarre decisions. Pepe should have seen red after his knee-crunching tackle on Malaga captain Duda.
This was the first time of the season that La Rosaleda has reached capacity. In the final stages of the game the home fans were in great voice, urging their team to find an equaliser. In the end, however, Diego López’s goal was rarely threatened.
Malaga can feel happy with their performance against the league leaders. Schuster gave his opinion on the match: “It is a defeat. We didn’t gain any points, but like the week before, this is the Malaga that I want to see."
Meanwhile, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti highlighted the performance of Malaga: “It is not always possible to win 2-0 or 3-0, our team worked together and showed a good attitude, I am happy. (...) One has to value the performance of Malaga who worked very hard."
On Sunday, Real will host Barcelona as they look to extend their lead at the top of the league. Malaga’s next match is in Galicia in a winnable match against Celta Vigo who lie just four points above.