Another case of déjà vu for Malaga. The team showed moments of good, attacking football, but were chasing Sevilla for the majority of the match after the visitors took an early lead in the Andalusian derby at La Rosaleda on Wednesday night.
On paper, the fixture seemed like a mismatch, pitting sixth-placed Sevilla, who are still in the Champion’s League, against bottom side Malaga but there was a sense of excitement in the air for this special Andalucía Day derby and the Malaga fans did not hesitate in making their voices heard.
The first half saw perhaps a few more errors than usual due to the slippery conditions produced by a day of unremitting rain.
Sevilla, however, gathered themselves best and after 13 minutes, a clever pass from Ben Yedder found Miguel Layún on the edge of the box whose well-hit right-footed shot forced a relatively comfortable save from Roberto.
Malaga’s defence came undone just a minute later when a chipped pass from Nolito found Joaquín Correa, who then tucked the ball neatly into the bottom right corner on the stretch.
The hosts looked to fight back immediately and the fans were on their feet when a penalty plea was ignored by the referee who didn't see a foul as Isaac Success was bundled down in the box.
Success, making his first start for Malaga, was surprisingly withdrawn towards the end of the first half, replaced by Youssef En-Nesyri who had his red card against Athletic Bilbao rescinded. It is unclear whether the Nigerian was hooked due to an injury but it is fair to say he struggled to make an impression.
In contrast, En-Nesyri’s presence was immediately felt, providing an attacking menace primarily down the left. However, Sevilla maintained the upper hand and after a shot from Nolito was perilously deflected over his own bar by Ignasi Miquel, Sevilla had the ball in the net from the resulting corner, only for it to be ruled offside.
In the second half, both teams found a renewed vigour. A cross from Mehdi Lacen met the head of En-Nesyri, but his attempt went high and wide.
Sevilla then came very close to scoring when a right-footed shot from Nolito was saved by Roberto.
On the 57-minute mark, Diego Rolan’s near-post shot was tipped over the bar for a corner by Sergio Rico. Roberto Rosales then provided a cross from the resulting set piece to Luis Hernández, whose shot from the centre of the box was blocked. Rosales fired the ball back in again to find the head of Ideye, who headed it high and wide.
With half an hour to go, Sevilla brought on Franco Vázquez to replace Joaquín Correa. He brought some much-needed energy to the side and came close when his shot rippled the side netting after collecting the ball on the right from a corner.
A foul on the edge of the Sevilla box gave Chory Castro an excellent opportunity to score from a free kick, but his shot hit the jumping wall and Diego González hit the rebound wide.
Malaga looked much the better side in the closing stages, forcing Sevilla to concede several corners and freekicks. After Sevilla brought on former Malaga man Sandro Ramírez (to a hostile reception), Malaga head coach José González responded with his final throw of the dice, bringing on forward Samu for left-back González.
There was drama till the last as a shot from Vázquez in stoppage time was saved by Roberto's foot; the keeper then had to scramble back towards his own goalline to prevent an unfortunate Miquel own goal.
This defeat is Malaga's second in a week and yet another by a single goal margin. Despite their best efforts, again they failed to find the crucial goal and relegation remains an inevitability.