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Late heartbreak for Malaga in key relegation battle

Diego Rolán celebrates Malaga's second equaliser of the night.
Diego Rolán celebrates Malaga's second equaliser of the night. / Agencia LOF
  • The Blue and Whites fought back twice but conceded the winner with five minutes to go

Malaga's battle to beat the drop took a major blow on Friday night as direct rivals Deportivo La Coruña scored late to secure all three points, the first win of Clarence Seedorf's reign.

Boosted by last week's 1-0 victory against Villarreal, Malaga, again unchanged, started stronger but received an early setback within five minutes when Luis Hernández misjudged the flight of the long ball before clumsily bringing down Lucas Pérez in the penalty area.

Despite the short run-up, the on-loan Arsenal striker sent Roberto the wrong way and buried the ball into the side netting.

Unperturbed, the visitors picked up where they left off and continued to exert pressure on Dépor. Winger Isaac Success often found space on the right-hand side and had a number of opportunities that a player with greater match fitness might have taken. First, his left-footed shot was blocked out for a corner and, but for a loose touch, he would have been through on goal minutes later. In the 32nd minute he then snatched at a volley from Chory Castro’s long throw, hitting the ball harmlessly into row Z.

However, Malaga’s persistence paid off five minutes before half time when forward Diego Rolán forced Guilherme to hook the ball into his own net. The midfielder couldn’t react quick enough to Roberto Rosales’ corner, which received a flick-on from Ignasi Miquel on the way through to the back post.

This was little more than the Costa del Sol side deserved but they were forced onto the back foot after the restart by a resurgent Deportivo side which looked to get the ball into Lucas Pérez as quickly as possible.

His pace caused all sorts of problems for Luis Hernández and Ignasi Miquel, both of whom picked up yellow cards, ruling the former out of next week’s clash against Real Madrid at La Rosaleda.

Malaga keeper Roberto had to be on his toes in the second half and superbly denied Pérez from six yards out just a minute in.

He also stood firm in the face of Adrián who ought to have done better when put through by a clever Pérez flick.

The home side had certainly stepped on the accelerator and Guilherme almost made amends when his shot cannoned out off the post after Roberto was wrong-footed by the deflection off Miquel’s back.

As the pressure continued to build, Dépor got the goal they deserved; it was Adrián who finished off the move, sliding home Pedro Mosquera’s cutback from the left.

Dépor, however, are not deep in relegation trouble for nothing. Just three minutes later they let their vulnerabilities show once again when substitute Samuel García managed to shrug off the attentions of two players despite miscontrolling the ball, before whipping in a near-post cross for Rolán who spectacularly hooked in the second Malaga equaliser of the game.

With a draw of no use to either side this late in the season, neither team could afford to sit back and take the draw and the game flipflopped for the remaining twenty minutes.

Youssef En-Nesyri, mostly anonymous throughout the clash, almost won it when he smashed his header onto the crossbar from Rosales’ deep cross.

But it was to be Dépor’s night. The sharpness in their attack had Malaga hanging on by their fingernails until the resistance finally broke with five minutes to go and Adrián bagged the winner in almost identical fashion to his first, sweeping the cutback into the far corner, this time from the right and from substitute Borja Valle.

Seedorf’s side have leapfrogged Las Palmas into 18th place, six points above Malaga who are 11 points from safety but with Levante and Las Palmas still to play each other this weekend.