New era, same old problems

Daniel Wass scoring Celta's second of the game
Daniel Wass scoring Celta's second of the game / EFE
  • Marcelo Romero's first game as head coach ended in defeat as his side's defensive frailties were exposed once more

It wasn't the start new Malaga head coach Marcelo Romero would have hoped for as his side fell to a 3-1 defeat at Balaídos on Sunday night.

Romero rung the changes, reinstating Carlos Kameni in goal but after just seven minutes, he was beaten. Sharp reactions in the middle of the field and a quick first-time ball by left-back Jonny switched play and carved open the entire Malaga backline as Iago Aspas was gifted the freedom of the field to round the keeper and give his side an early lead.

Things went from bad to worse when Miguel Torres hobbled off minutes later to be replaced by Diego Llorente. It didn't take long for Llorente to get himself in the thick of the action, blocking a goal-bound John Guidetti volley with his arm before chopping down the Swedish striker in the six-yard box. Remarkably, the referee waved play on.

Perhaps this was the wake up call Romero's side needed; the Blue and Whites composed themselves and started to assert themselves on the game, with Sandro twice latching onto balls over the top, only to lose his cool at the last minute.

Mikel also came close with a free header that needed the fingertips of Rubén to keep it out.

The second half continued in the same vein for the visitors who almost levelled immediately through Sandro whose rifled effort swerved enormously and forced Rubén into an unorthodox save with his ribs.

However, Malaga's usual failings came back to haunt them again on the 60-minute mark when Daniel Wass tapped home a low cross unopposed to double the Galicians' advantage.

It was three not long after, when Iago Aspas' freekick missed its intended target before falling to Andreu Fontàs who, despite being just six yards out, had time to steady himself before firing home.

This didn't dampen Malaga, though, who continued to fight for their new manager. Michael Santos, who started the game on the right but was later moved up top with Sandro, fashioned a chance out of pure persistance, hounding the defender to set up his strike partner for a chance which was ultimately snuffed out just as the former Barcelona man was about to pull the trigger.

Santos then hit the base of the post with a header from a near-post corner with seven minutes to go and just three minutes later they had their goal when Daniel Wass' flicked header on Sandro's whipped freekick had the beating of his own keeper.

Despite the scoreline flattering the home side who only managed three attempts on goal in the whole tie, the Blue and Whites only had themselves to blame as their defensive failings gifted their hosts what was, on paper at least, a comfortable victory.