surinenglish

Plenty of endeavour but no reward

Diego Llorente curses his luck after missing the target with stoppage time looming.
Diego Llorente curses his luck after missing the target with stoppage time looming.
  • Míchel continues to search for his first win as boss after goals from from Koke and Filipe Luís condemn the Blue and Whites to a 2-0 defeat

There were promising moments, but ultimately the game followed the same pattern. Malaga are just six points clear of the drop zone after their latest defeat at the hands of Atético Madrid at La Rosaleda on Saturday evening. Goals from Koke and Filipe Luís leave Míchel still searching for his first win as new boss.

"It is natural that we are worried," he said in post-match press conference, though his side did play better football on the night than their form suggested.

The pre-match proceedings were dominated by an incident just before kick-off, when owner Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani was denied entry into the stadium by police who had closed off the road. He posted on Twitter: “There is no justice and no respect in this country”.

That sentiment would soon be echoed by fans in the ground as refereeing decisions started to go against the hosts who were looking to right the wrongs of recent weeks, with a more defensive formation which, in theory at least, would countain Atleti's striking pair and allow the pacey forward pairing of Sandro and Keko to cause the Atlético defence problems. The plan worked at one end, but the striking duo failed to create anything of note in the first half.

The visitors were equally as unconvincing, with Koke’s drive from distance, which was straight at Carlos Kameni, their only real effort on goal before the 25-year old Spaniard found himself in the right place at the right time to poke Atlético in front after a mix-up in the hosts’ defence.

Malaga largely struggled to find a reply, but a one-two between Rosales and Sandro saw Keko’s backheel from the former’s cross force Jan Oblak into action two minutes before the break.

The second half saw little creativity from both sides, with Malaga packing men into the centre of the pitch to neutralise the visitors' creators. In fact, it wasn’t until fifteen minutes from the end that the game came to life, and a minute after Griezmann fired inches wide of Kameni’s left-hand post, Torres played Filipe Luís through to send a delightful dink over the Cameroonian to all-but secure the points for Diego Simeone’s side.

In truth, the scoreline flattered the visitors who had offered very little and had been stifled by Malaga's hard work and discipline.

Sandro looked the most likely to ruin Jan Oblak's clean sheet, with his shot on the spin requiring sharp reactions from the Slovenian to keep hold of the effort.

The Canarian's expertise on set pieces also posed a threat, with a fine ball from the right evading the Atleti defence, but Llorente failed to apply the finishing touch.

He was at it again moments later as he latched onto a precise through ball from substitute Michael Santos, but failed to get enough purchase on his chip to overtly trouble the keeper.

Things don't get much easier for the Blue and Whites with a trip to fellow strugglers Sporting Gijón next on the agenda.