After what seems like an endless string of draws, Malaga desperately need a win to boost both their spirits and their position on the league table. The point they gained after the 1-1 result against Numancia on Monday night has pushed them down to fifth place in La Liga 123, Spain's second division.
Coach Muñiz went out onto the pitch in a chilly Los Pajaritos stadium with Renato in his starting lineup, a surprising decision that could only be explained by a need to save Iván Alejo and Hugo for later due to recent injury.
He also chose to start with Seleznov up front instead of Blanco, presumably because of the latter's recent goal drought. The Ukrainian failed to deliver, however, never being where he should have been and always arriving late.
Meanwhile, another of Muñiz's starting players, Mula, failed to provide the much-needed flow down the wing, leaving too many gaps open for the home team.
Malaga's first half was a disaster. Their recent inability to produce quality football was evident, as was their lack of confidence, the players preferring to pass the ball to a teammate at the first opportunity rather than pausing to think about what to do with it.
The hosts went ahead in the 40th minute thanks to Diamanka. The midfielder broke through Malaga's lax defence to score his ninth goal in the Liga.
The half-time lecture from Muñiz must have been fierce as it was a different Malaga that went out for the second half and not just because of the substitutions (Keidi and Mula had been replaced by Iván Alejo and Blanco to change to a 4-4-2 system). After just four minutes they found the equaliser, thanks to Rikki who scored from a corner.
For the rest of the half Malaga seemed to have newfound concentration and ambition. This wasn't enough, however, and the visitors never got their chance to take the lead. Both sides made their final substitutions too early and the game fizzled out, leaving the score at 1-1.
Malaga's chances of automatic promotion to the first division are slipping through their fingers. They must win their next matches if they want to stay up among the leaders.