surinenglish

Honours even at Riazor in top-of-the-table clash

Quique's high boot on Luis Hernández cost him a red card in the 78th minute.
Quique's high boot on Luis Hernández cost him a red card in the 78th minute. / Marcos Míguez / La Voz de Galicia
  • Alfred N'Diaye put the visitors ahead but Carlos Fernández levelled up just before his side controversially went down to ten men

  • Malaga return content despite surrendering the lead with a quarter of an hour to go

Despite its tenants now sitting in Spain's second division, a trip to Riazor is never an easy task. Juan Ramón Muñiz's side came away from Galicia on Sunday content with a point against fellow promotion favourites Deportivo, even though they surrendered a lead in a game which saw their opponents go down to ten men.

Muñiz went with the same eleven that defeated Rayo Majadahonda a week previously, meaning that Juanpi and Iván continued in tandem down the right flank. But it was down the other side of the pitch that Malaga encountered problems in the early exchanges, with Dépor looking the most likely to break the deadlock.

First, right-back David Simón stole the ball from winger Javi Ontiveros before heading for the byline and cutting the ball back for Quique who stabbed wide.

The Malaga defence was then caught all at sea as Quique fed in Carles Gil who showed his over-reliance on his left foot, cutting in then hitting his shot wide.

These early scares saw Malaga coach Muñiz adjust his tactics to close off the space, with forwards Gustavo Blanco Leschuk and Jack Harper defending from the front to cut off passing lines.

This helped the Blue and Whites to get a foothold in the game and take the lead in the 54th minute. Midfielder Alfred N'Diaye squeezed the ball into the net through a crowd of players, latching onto the rebound of Adrián's shot from the angle. The goal came from yet another Luis Hernández long throw - his fourth to have resulted in a goal this season.

Despite having their opponents contained, it only took one lapse to let Deportivo back into the game. Right-back Iván switched off for a split second, allowing Álex Bergantiños to steal a march and whip in a near-post cross for Carlos Fernández to expertly convert.

"Never seen anything like it"

The hosts' optimism was shortlived, however, as forward Quique was sent off just two minutes later in controversial circumstances: his attempted overhead kick was deemed to be dangerous play and he received a straight red card to the surprise of almost everyone inside the stadium.

"As they say, there's a first time for everything," Dépor coach Natxo González said following the game. "I've never seen anything like it [...] obviously I think it's a bad [refereeing] mistake."

This evidently took the wind out of the home side's sails and, but for better finishing, Harper could have brought all three points back to the Costa del Sol.

"We were in the game right to the end," said Malaga coach Muñiz. "We've come to a very difficult place, against a good team, and I'm sure both sides think they could have won today."

The victory means that the Blue and Whites remain two points clear at the top of the table ahead of the visit of Albacete, early on Friday evening (kick-off 4pm).