In a division as hotly-contested as Segunda, 1-0 becomes a very important scoreline. Malaga’s excellent start continued with their third victory by that scoreline, and fourth by the same margin, against Tenerife on Saturday afternoon.
Following their win in Almeria, coach Juan Ramón Muñiz made a number of changes, with Polish keeper Pawel Kieszek getting a debut in place of Munir who was called up for international duty, as well as first starts for the season for Mehdi Lacen, coming in for Alfred N’Diaye, away with Senegal, and Álex Mula, starting in place of the injured Dani Pacheco.
A further change was made with just minutes to go before the start of the game as Javi Ontiveros came in for Renato Santos, who pulled up during the warm-up.
Jack Harper, fresh off his first senior goal for the club, manufactured the first chance of the game, wriggling through a crowd on the edge of the area before shooting low where keeper Dani Hernández could get behind it.
Ontiveros, never shy of the limelight, was heavily involved and teed up Harper with a right-footed cross from the left, but the striker’s header dropped onto the roof of the net.
The Spanish winger tried his luck for himself, when a nice cross-field volley from Mula found him in space but the shot was well read by the keeper who held on on the second attempt.
Though a half low on action, Malaga looked the most likely to get the breakthrough goal – and so it proved. Ontiveros, dropping into space behind the strikers, played a reverse pass to Gustavo Blanco Leschuk who wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to get his second of the season in the one-on-one.
Defending their lead in the second half, Malaga had to withstand a number of scares. The first came almost immediately when Naranjo failed to convert a cross at the back post with practically an open net in front of him.
Then Kieszek had to get down quickly to stop Suso at his near post.
Despite defensive reinforcements in the form of Juankar and Badr Boulahroud, Tenerife’s assault on the Malaga goal continued.
With just ten minutes to go the home fans were breathing a huge sigh of relief when Suso’s shot from the right travelled a long way through a crowd of men before striking the base of the post. Kieszek was rooted to the spot.
However, the best chance of all for the visitors came in stoppage time when the ball fell to substitute Paco Montañés in the area, who blasted his volley high into the stand.
It was far from a classic for Malaga, but come the end of the season, the team with the most 1-0 victories will most likely be playing in La Liga the coming year.