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Major setback for Malaga in relegation 'six-pointer'

Borja Bastón battling for possession.
Borja Bastón battling for possession. / Agencies
  • The Blue and Whites are four points adrift of safety going into the winter break

Malaga's hopes of survival were dealt a major blow as they lost 1-0 in a relegation 'six-pointer' against fellow strugglers Deportivo Alavés last Thursday night.

Because of suspensions for Adrián and Roberto Rosales, head coach Míchel was forced to pick an unfamiliar looking side with Luis Hernández filling in at right-back and Ignasi Miquel making his debut at centre-half. In the middle, Zdravko Kuzmanovic's recovery from injury was accelerated and he was given a start.

The makeshift line-up, in truth, played like a group of strangers and never looked likely to come away with any points.

Alavés almost drew first blood when Ibai Gómez's floated free kick was met by the head of Manu García who drew a top save from Roberto despite being flagged offside.

As early as the 11th minute, on-loan Barcelona forward Munir El Haddadi, started to make himself a thorn in Malaga's side. His shot, which would be the first of many in his personal duel with Roberto, was blocked by the legs of the keeper from a tight angle.

Sloppy defending let Munir in again just five minutes later, but Roberto again won the battle, blocking the effort with his thigh.

The hosts' wastefulness was a gift for Malaga who, despite lots of endeavour, showed a distinct lack of quality in the final third with Pacheco never overtly troubled.

It was far from third time lucky for Munir in the second half when he hit the bar from five yards out after Roberto spilled the ball into his path.

It looked like it wasn't going to be his night when he lobbed the ball over Roberto from a long ball and the ball trickled past the far post.

However, on the fifth time of asking, the striker eventually got the breakthrough goal, confidently volleying into the bottom left corner from the penalty spot.

Despite having more than half an hour left on the clock, Malaga were unable to create any chances of note. The winter break comes as welcome respite with the side now four points from safety going into a key run-in of fixtures.

They return to league action on 8 January as they take on another of the league's bottom boys in the form of Espanyol, at La Rosaleda.

Because of suspensions for Adrián and Roberto Rosales, head coach Míchel was forced to pick an unfamiliar looking side with Luis Hernández filling in at right-back and Ignasi Miquel making his debut on the left-hand side. In the middle, Zdravko Kuzmanovic's recovery from injury was accelarated and he was given a start.

The makeshift line-up, in truth, played like a group of strangers and never looked likely to come away with any points.

The tie was settled in the second half by a solitary strike from Munir El Haddadi who was a thorn in Malaga's side all evening but eventually got the breakthrough goal after missing two clear opportunities.

The Blue and Whites go into the winter break four points from safety. They return to league action on 8 January as they take on another of the league's bottom boys in the form of Espanyol, at La Rosaleda.