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A scrappy but vital point for Míchel in the capital

Tito disappointed after failing to convert a fine cross.
Tito disappointed after failing to convert a fine cross. / EFE
  • A game with very little between the sides was a disappointing affair, but the point will come as some sort of relief for Malaga who kept their first clean sheet since their draw at the Camp Nou in November

Leganés and Malaga played out an error-strewn 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque in a match that went a long way to demonstrating why both sides find themselves so far down the league table. Nevertheless, the draw will be a slight boost for Míchel, who earned his first point as manager of the Blue and Whites, although the fact his side haven’t scored an away goal since a Charles header against Villarreal in mid-February will be of utmost concern.

The hosts immediately set about putting Malaga on the back foot from kick-off, and led to Rubén Pérez’s only error of the game after his attempt to cut across the ball from 20 yards was driven over the bar following a lay-off from a teammate. Unfortunately, soon after the predominant features of misplaced passes, heavy touches and poor crosses took over and held true for the rest of the half. However, that didn’t prevent chances being created, although a lack of incisiveness from Leganés led them to spurn opportunity after opportunity. In the 18th minute a seemingly overhit free-kick from Alexander Szymanowski was rescued by Unai Bustinza at the back post, who somehow managed to steer it goalwards, with Charles coming to his side’s rescue to clear off the line.

Meanwhile, the only sight Malaga saw of goal came from rather speculative efforts from full backs Juankar and Roberto Rosales, shots that never came close to worrying Iago Herrerín in the Leganés goal. At the other end, Leganés began to deliver crosses into the box incessantly from corners and wide areas, as Szymanowski and Diego Rico were granted the freedom of the Malaga right-hand side; an advantage neither used to great effect.

The consequent nerves for Míchel’s side were nonetheless evident, so much so that just after the half-hour mark Carlos Kameni chipped a simple clearance straight to Nabil El Zhar, and only swift reactions from three Malaga players averted a shot on goal from the Moroccan.

Whether Leganés sensed the opportunity to hammer home their domination or not, a lack of composure in front of goal prevented the hosts from taking the lead during the five-minute period before half time. Pérez’s ball in to the box was half cleared by Diego Llorente, but it fell kindly to his opposite number Martín Mantovani, who snatched at the volley and sent the ball over Kameni’s bar. A minute later a cross, this time from Szymanowski, just evaded El Zhar, but found Tito at the back post, who failed to get any sort of clean contact on the ball to direct it past Malaga’s Cameroonian keeper, an event that summarised the half in an accurate manner.

Unfortunately for the spectators, the game decreased in quality in the second half, despite very minor improvements in Malaga’s play. Just under five minutes into the half, a beautifully weighted ball from Charles put Sandro in, but a recovering defender and difficult angles to work with were sufficient factors in forcing the Spaniard to fire well wide. Rico’s ventures down the left-hand side belonged in a different game, first forcing Kameni into a fine save just before the hour mark, which incidentally was the best moment of football in the whole game, before an innocuous situation again on the left saw him rocket a shot against the frame of the Cameroonian’s goal.

On Malaga’s left side of the pitch Jony, who replaced the once again anonymous Chory Castro, endeavoured to increase his side’s prospects going forward, but despite a few energetic runs even he could not help but commit the same mistakes his teammates had been guilty of the whole afternoon, even if Keko did nearly get on the end of one of his cross-shots.

Camacho did manage to force Herrerín into a save from a header six minutes from time, but the overhit passes, poor control and inaccuracy were such frequent features as the half wore on that the referee’s whistle almost came as a relief given that both teams had seemed quite content with the draw long before the referee had ended the game.