Al Thani responds to Malaga fans and is accompanied by Jesús Gámez and Sergio Sánchez. :: CARLOS MORET
Malaga ended the league campaign with a victory last Friday as they beat a lacklustre Levante 1-0 to finish in 11th place. The game was watched by Malaga owner, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, the first time in a year and a half that the Qatari businessman had seen a match at La Rosaleda. He joined the players on the pitch to celebrate the result at the final whistle.
Both teams were assured of finishing the league in mid-table and it was thus a fairly drab contest. From the off Malaga were the better side and Rescaldani came close with a curled effort that was palmed away by Keylor Navas.
It was one-way traffic as the Blue and Whites looked for an opening. The visitors lacked ambition and failed to muster a single shot on target. After 60 minutes the deadlock was broken. Keylor Navas parried Amrabat’s shot and tried to grab the rebound that fell to Portillo. The midfielder found space for a shot which managed to avoid the keeper and the sea of legs to hit the back of the net.
Levante thought they had equalised through David Navarro’s header. However, the referee correctly spotted a foul by Vyntra on Sergi Darder. Schuster failed to end the match on the Malaga bench after the referee sent him to the stands following an argument with the fourth official.
In the final stages of the game Malaga were given the chance to double their lead as Juanmi was fouled in the box which resulted in a penalty. Amrabat handed the ball to Casado who has been injured all season so he could take the kick. Unfortunately his shot sailed over and the game ended 1-0.
Malaga players put on t-shirts that thanked the fans at the final whistle and did a lap of honour. The Sheikh joined the players and congratulated them while the home fans chanted “Al-Thani, Al-Thani, Al-Thani...”.
Schuster summed up his time at Malaga following the match: “It has been very good working alongside these players and we have experienced some great moments together. We have also suffered, but that is football. We struggled to find our feet in the first half of the season, but we were a top team in the second. I would have liked to have won more games at home because some games we lost even though we were the better team. Of course it is a shame that I am leaving, but I am happy,” he said.
Malaga are now looking for a replacement for the German with current Osasuna boss Javi Gracia joining the list of possible successors.