A sad end to Malaga's golden era

The protests started from the Plaza de la Constitución.
The protests started from the Plaza de la Constitución. / Fernando González
  • Malaga's ten-year stay in La Liga came to a disappointing end on Saturday, bowing out with defeat to Getafe on the field and protests off it

With relegation predetermined after their loss on 19 April against Levante, the Malaga team had nothing to play for in Saturday's match, the final of the season, against Getafe - and it showed. Clouds drew in over La Rosaleda as the game commenced, contributing further to the glum atmosphere.

The few fans that were in attendance slumped in their seats, their numbers reduced as a result of the protest that was taking place outside. The target of the anger, Malaga's controversial owner Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani was nowhere to be seen as the blue-and-white-striped funeral procession marched up to the ground from the central Plaza de la Constitución.

Once things got under way, the game trudged ahead at a decidedly slow pace. Getafe kept the ball near Malaga's goal quite consistently for the first ten minutes, but their attempts at scoring were fairly weak and ultimately unsuccessful.

Eighteen minutes in, Malaga had the ball at the other end and their first chance came after Youssef En-Nesyri dispossessed a Getafe defender and laid the ball off to Lestienne who, with a clear sight of goal, let his opportunity go to waste as the defender got back to clear.

This chance did rouse the crowd a little and their rallying was rewarded with a few minutes of end-to-end action. First, Diego Rolán was played into the inside left position, but the Uruguayan couldn't squeeze the ball past Vicente Guaita.

Adrián then sent the Getafe keeper scrambling with his volley from the edge of the area which was blocked out for a corner.

Amath Ndiaye came close with a scuffed left-footed shot which dragged just wide of the far post.

Malaga keeper Andrés Prieto had to be sharp before the end of the first half to palm away a stinging freekick from Vitorino Antunes.

Diego González had a torrid time against Amath.

Diego González had a torrid time against Amath. / Fernando González

Following the break, the expectation was for those protesting to flood in to the stadium to watch the second half. Up until then, the seating behind Malaga's goal was all-but empty. The protesters' eventual arrival was more of a trickle than a flood, but the additions to the crowd managed to sustain a few chants, lighting a spark in the previously sombre stadium. The stadium was especially animated by the angry calls of “¡Al-Thani vete ya!”, in opposition the sheikh. Chanters also urged sporting director Mario Husillos to leave, with an agreement over the termination of his contract still not yet reached.

The hosts created a few chances in the early phases on the second half. A nice team move, which saw Isaac Success play in Rolán, ended in the same way as the forward's chance in the first half; Guaita got down well to smother the shot.

Success, who put in his best performance in a Malaga shot, then skipped past three defenders to put himself through on the keeper. However, instead of going for goal himself, his lay-off for Maxime Lestienne was too heavy, forcing the Belgian too wide and he could only hook the ball into the side netting.

Distraught fans at the final whistle.

Distraught fans at the final whistle. / Fernando González

The deadlock was broken in the 73rd minute when Loïc Rémy was upended in the area by Diego González and the former Chelsea forward brushed himself down and slotted the ball in, sending Prieto the wrong way.

This subdued the atmosphere even further. It could have taken a further dent in stoppage time but Rémy whipped his shot wide of the far post, sparing the Malaga fans further embarrassment.

As time was called, the contrast between the two team couldn't have been more apparent. High-flying Getafe waved to their twenty or so delighted fans while Malaga fans and players alike plodded out of the door, heads down, contemplating their sorry season and the club's future in Segunda.