It's now four defeats on the bounce for Malaga who opened matchday 19 with a 0-1 loss at Getafe on Friday night. The game was in real danger of being written off as a bore draw until some intuitive set piece play in the 73rd minute broke the deadlock for the hosts.
After being let off the hook in the opening minutes when Jorge Molina dragged his shot in the one-on-one, Malaga looked relatively comfortable in the first half in the 4-3-3 formation Míchel chose on his return to his former club. However, barring an effort from Recio who came close with a whipped effort from the left, Malaga were unable to get close enough to Emi Martínez’s goal in a first half lacking in goalmouth action.
Set pieces changed all this after the break. The visitors created first: Recio’s freekick from the left found the head of Adrián who drew a fine save from Martínez while his defenders were left calling for offside. Federico Ricca won his header from the resulting corner, but drew a simple stop from the keeper on this occasion.
It was Getafe’s own set piece with twenty minutes to go which brought about the game’s defining moment. Faycal Fajr’s freekick from the right picked out Ángel Rodríguez at the back stick; the substitute lofted the ball back into the six-yard box on the volley for the waiting Juan Cala who powered his header beyond Roberto’s desperate dive.
Youssef En-Nesyri, who started up top on his own, had cut a lone figure up from until Míchel rang the changes, bringing on Adalberto Peñaranda, Alberto Bueno and Mula.
Malaga’s new signing Bueno may have started on the bench, yet he still managed to carve out his side’s best chances of the game. This first, a half volley from outside the box went narrowly over while his second, an acrobatic effort in the area, sailed wide.
There were signs, though brief, that Bueno could make a difference to a team severely lacking in quality in attacking areas, but whether his arrival –and the expected signing of Ricardo Centurión- can still save the team, remains to be seen.