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Away campaign ends in pulsating draw

Away campaign ends in pulsating draw
  • Malaga CF ended a largely disappointing campaign on the road with a thrilling 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad, who led but then had to come from behind to ensure a share of the spoils

Malaga’s away record has certainly improved under Míchel, but victories against Granada and Sporting Gijón will be Malaga’s only three points on the road this season after an exciting 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad.

Míchel was forced into a couple of changes from the Celta Vigo game, with Keko coming in for a suspended Ignacio Camacho in a move which saw Pablo Fornals drop back to accompany Recio in central midfield, while Jony came in as a direct replacement for Javi Ontiveros, who is involved in Malaga’s reserve team’s promotion bid.

The changes didn’t initially seem to have hindered the visitors as the first opening fifteen minutes passed by without any real incident, except Jony’s freekick which went narrowly wide.

However, Malaga soon began to feel the absence of their captain as the midfield failed to break up the wave of Sociedad attacks, with striker Willian José heavily involved. Just after the 25-minute mark, the Brazilian saw his back-post header cleared off the line by Recio, before seeing his deflected long-range effort fizz behind for a corner with Kameni beaten.

It was from that set-piece that lead to the hosts taking the lead, with the referee awarding the hosts a penalty on the half-hour mark after Keko was adjudged to have fouled Asier Illarramendi. Xabi Prieto made no mistake from the spot and sent the ball past Kameni for his eighth goal this season.

Yuri Berchiche fired over seven minutes later before Kameni was forced into a save to divert Willian José’s powerful strike over, with a second goal appearing a matter of time.

However, the last act of the half saw the visitors equalise against the run of play. A short corner was laid back to Juankar, whose curling effort crashed against the bar before hitting Gerónimo Rulli in the back, paving the way for Luis Hernández to tap into an empty net for his first Malaga goal.

The hosts seemed unfazed by the equaliser after play restarted and continued to press to regain the lead. Diego Llorente almost put Álvaro Odriozola’s cross into his own net, six minutes before Willian José was denied yet again, this time heading onto the woodwork from Carlos Vela’s cross.

The Mexican would try himself in the 64th minute, but curled his effort straight at Kameni, before substitute Mikel Oyarzabal clipped well wide of the post after holding off the challenge of Llorente from a long ball.

Sandro has been in dazzling form lately for Malaga, but he was largely ineffective in the game. Nevertheless, he nearly made an impact with just over fifteen minutes remaining, but Torres’ cross was too high for the 21-year-old who headed wide when off balance.

Two minutes later though Míchel’s side would take a shock lead after Recio collected the ball from 30 yards out before smashing a strike past Rulli into the left-hand corner.

Míchel’s next tactical move saw Martín Demichelis sent on for Keko as part of a switch to a formation with a five-man defence. However, the change seemed to make little difference as the visitors continued to ride their luck.

After Willian José had failed to hit the target when in a plenty of space outside the box, an unmarked Iñigo Martínez headed another effort wide from a corner at the back post.

Three minutes after Juankar spurned the chance to seal the game for Malaga by firing straight at Rulli from Recio’s pass, the visitors’ luck finally ran out, when substitute Jon Bautista found space between Demichelis and Llorente to nod a cross from the left into the bottom left-hand corner.

Both teams would create openings for a winner in the final five minutes, but Willian José failed to control Sergio Canales’ cross which would have seen him go one-on-one with Kameni, and then Malaga’s Sandro failed to put enough height on a chip to beat Rulli.

Both sides had to therefore settle for a point on the penultimate matchday, with Malaga’s final game of the season at home to title-chasing Real Madrid.