Malaga missed out on a chance to leapfrog Las Palmas into 19th place on Monday night as they threw away a lead to lose in the Andalusian derby against Real Betis.
The Estadio Benito Villamarín was bouncing ahead of the clash as the Seville side aimed to secure Europa League qualification.
With Malaga already relegated, the side nonetheless still showed that they had pride to play for and started the tie the stronger of the two teams creating two good chances in the opening ten minutes.
Just six minutes in Adrián brought down the ball on the edge of the box on his chest before letting himself down by snatching his volley wide.
Minutes later, Diego Rolán showed good close control in the area to turn the defender but his shot went straight at Pedro in the Betis goal.
Maxime Lestienne had Malaga fans on their feet when he took a tumble in the area but replays showed that though there was contact from Antonio Barragán, the Belgian made the most of the touch and his delayed fall didn’t fool the referee.
Eventually, though, this early Malaga pressure paid off when Isaac Success sent Youssef En-Nesyri through on goal; the young Moroccan held off Jordi Amat before opening up his body and whipping the ball into the top corner, taking his tally to four for the season.
However, for all Malaga’s attacking intent, an error at the back gifted Real Betis the equaliser in the 24th minute. As Roberto Rosales, one of the side’s more consistent performers, attempted to the clear the ball inside the penalty area, all he succeeded in doing was to tee up Riza Durmisi who had the simplest of tasks to slide it past Roberto.
Despite the blow, the visitors continued on the front foot and had the ball in the net when En-Nesyri tucked in Adrián’s low cross from the left. The 20-year-old forward, though, was at least two yards offside.
It was a good half for Malaga who were employing a 5-2-3 formation in the absence of a specialist left-back, with both Federico Ricca and Miguel Torres out injured. However, with the introduction of former Marbella forward Loren to partner Antonio Sanabria early in the second half, Malaga returned to their usual 4-4-2 in an attempt to stop Betis’ forwards picking up space.
This obsession with the forwards would cost them, though. In the 73rd minute, Fabián was given far too much space on the edge of the area; the midfielder was allowed to turn onto his favoured left foot and measure a strike into the right-hand corner of Roberto’s goal. The keeper could do nothing to stop it.
Despite bringing on Brown Ideye, Samuel García and Alberto Bueno, the best chance the Costa side could muster came in stoppage time when a long ball was flicked on by Ignasi Miquel at the back post but Bueno couldn’t get enough on his outstretched toe poke to test the keeper.
Malaga remain bottom of the league on 20 points, with Deportivo Alavés visiting La Rosaleda on Sunday.