Malaga back on the right track after tricky away day

Adrián celebrates his 78th-minute strike.
Adrián celebrates his 78th-minute strike. / Agencia LOF
  • Despite a late scare, the Blue and Whites got back to winning ways thanks to Adrián's second-half goal against a well-drilled Rayo Majadahonda

Smiles returned to Malaga fans' faces on Sunday night after the side overcame a tough test and came away with all three points in front of just 3,137 specators at the partially-closed Cerro del Espino in Madrid.

Rayo Majadahonda, with the recently-arrived Héctor Hernández in their ranks who was discarded by Malaga in January, have started to find their feet in Segunda after a spending spree last month and a return to their spiritual home.

This showed early on as the hosts controlled the possession (they finished the game with 64 per cent) and carved out the early chances.

As fate would have it, it was Héctor who had the best early openings for the hosts. First, he made the most of Diego González's reluctance to hold the line but the angle worked against him and Munir got down well to make the block on the stretch. Then, he beat Erik Morán to the ball to acrobatically meet Verza's freekick from the right but again Munir was alert and held on, on this occasion.

At the other end, Yevhen Seleznov, making his first start in place of the suspended Gustavo Blanco Leschuk, thought he had given his side the lead when he headed home Dani Pacheco's freekick, but the referee had already blown up for some off-the-ball tugging by Pau Torres.

With the run of play against his side, Malaga coach Juan Ramón Muñiz decided to revert to 4-4-2 early in the second half with the introductions of Jack Harper and Renato Santos.

It was the latter who forced the opening goal of the game; his cross from the right was cleared to the edge of the area where Adrián was on hand to volley home - with the help of two deflections.

With stoppage time approaching, Harper ought to have doubled his side's lead when he received the ball just ten yards out but the forward rushed his shot and hit it straight at the goalkeeper.

That goal would have calmed the nerves which had been starting to build, cueing the introduction of Luis Hernández, making his return from injury to form a back five. But instead of helping to see out the game, this new shape invited more pressure and almost resulted in an equaliser.

When Isaac Carcelén was pollaxed by keeper Munir in the area and the ball fell for Héctor to smash into the roof of the net, Malaga's travelling fans thought that their side had thrown away yet another two points in the closing phases. However, much to the surprise of the Rayo players, the linesman judged, correctly, that Carcelén had beyond the last man from Héctor's flicked header.

A level playing field

"It wasn't easy out there," said Muñiz after the game. "We're seeing time and time again how level the playing field is in this division. But today we weren't helped by the state of the pitch. It made things difficult... that's why I value this win so much."

For his part, Majadahonda coach Antonio Iriondo said: "I don't think the result reflected what happened on the field. Fortune was on one team's side and all we can do is congratulate them."

The win pushes Malaga back up to second, a point behind leaders Albacete.