Sandro is in red-hot goalscoring form at the moment for Malaga. Having inspired his side in their victory over Valencia, the Spaniard’s brace at the Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes handed Míchel’s side a 2-0 victory over Granada on Tuesday evening.
Míchel was somewhat forced to rotate the players deployed on the wings, with Juan Carlos replacing the injured Jony while Keko came in for Javi Ontiveros. Six minutes in, 25-year-old Keko managed to connect with Sandro’s incisive pass on the stretch, but placed his effort harmlessly wide. A minute later, Granada goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, on loan from Malaga, was called into action, tipping Ignacio Camacho’s effort over the bar after a poorly-cleared Juan Carlos cross.
Recio, buoyed by his goal at the weekend, was denied twice by Ochoa in as many minutes, firstly from a cute looping effort outside the box before forcing the Mexican to get down to palm away his curling effort inside the area.
Granada were having similar problems marking a roaming Sandro, who interchanged frequently with Keko. The duo combined just after the half-hour mark, but the former’s clever pass was blazed high and wide by the latter on his weaker foot.
Míchel’s side had received very little reward for all their domination, and the visitors would spurn another opportunity five minutes before the break, when Juan Carlos latched onto Luis Hernández’s long ball with a diagonal run, but his touch past the keeper was too heavy, narrowing the angle and forcing the winger to fire over.
The Blue and Whites went into half time disappointed, particularly given their supremacy in creating opportunities, with the visitors registering ten efforts compared to Granada’s zero. However, their regret turned to rejoice early in the second half when Sandro swept home his fifth goal of the season from outside the box following Keko’s lay-off.
Granada had produced next to nothing to trouble Carlos Kameni with an hour gone, but four minutes later the Cameroonian needed a strong right hand to divert Rene Krhin’s powerful low strike away from goal.
Malaga began to sit back too much, consequently inviting unnecessary pressure from Tony Adams’ side. Only the hosts’ own deficiencies in the attacking department let Malaga off the hook, with the next chance, Medhi Carcela-González’s misjudged clip in the 69th minute, proving to be their last.
Juan Carlos’ injury provided a sting in the tail for Malaga given Jony’s injury, but it was Sandro’s stinging efforts that threatened to put the game to bed. Eight minutes before time, Sandro smashed his effort against the outside of the post after being slipped in by Recio. The 21-year-old would not make the same mistake ten minutes later, though, taking one touch to control substitute Javi Ontiveros’ pass before powering the ball past Ochoa in the second minute of injury time for his 12th goal of the season and sealing the points in the process.
Malaga face another Andalusian rival next, with Sevilla the visitors to La Rosaleda on Monday. Kick-off is at 9pm.