Camacho tries to block Laporte during last night’s match in Bilbao. :: BORJA AGUDO
Going into the match Malaga had won their last three away games. However, they crumbled against an efficient and relentless Athletic Bilbao who boosted their hopes of Champions League qualification in last night’s match.
From the first minute until the last Athletic were the better team. Bernd Schuster’s men were left in shock as they conceded a goal at the beginning of each half. While Malaga have almost secured their survival, they let down their guard in the new San Mamés stadium where the home support is some of the most passionate in the league.
The first goal came after four minutes as Aduriz sneaked past his defender and met Susaeta’s corner with a firmly struck header to net his 14th league goal of the season. Athletic continued to dominate throughout the half and had another excellent opportunity after 31 minutes when San José escaped the offside trap but had his header easily saved by Caballero.
Just 39 seconds into the second half Aduriz doubled his tally; Malaga were still sleeping after the restart. A through ball opened up the defence and Susaeta’s pass across the face of goal found Aduriz who slotted home.
To try and find an opening Juanmi and Amrabat swapped wings and Malaga did press more in the second half. The Blue and Whites had their best chance after 55 minutes as Amrabat’s perfectly weighted cross found Darder who headed wide of the post.
Aduriz could have got a hat-trick but his spectacular volleyed effort was blocked by Caballero. Had it gone in it would have been a contender for goal of the season. As the second half progressed more gaps were appearing in the Malaga defence as they tried to push forward.
The third goal came from a corner and the ball found its way to Ander Herrera on the edge of the area. His half volleyed attempt should have been easily stopped by the keeper but it somehow made its way between Caballero’s legs and rolled into the back of the net.
With half an hour left the tie was wrapped up and Athletic went through the motions. Malaga were lucky not to concede a penalty after Eliseu brought down Muniain in the area. The final score could well have been much more embarrassing for Malaga.
Bernd Schuster recognised the weakness of his team: “Today we didn’t do enough to walk away with any points, while Athletic did what they needed to do. They played their game and they had no problems winning.”
Malaga’s Brazilian captain Weligton gave his analysis on the final stage of the season: “We are in a delicate situation and we are missing important players, but our continuation in the league is in our hands.”