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Malaga score late to seal another agonising draw

Blanco Leschuk collects the ball from the net after ending his goal drought as Iván Alejo celebrates.
Blanco Leschuk collects the ball from the net after ending his goal drought as Iván Alejo celebrates. / ÑITO SALAS
  • The Blue and Whites limped over the finishing line against Sporting who took the lead with a penalty in the first half at La Rosaleda on Friday

  • Both sides finished the game with ten men after Pablo Pérez and Diego González received their marching orders in the second half

The nearly 17,000 Malaga fans who were in the stands at La Rosaleda stadium last Friday night were denied the chance yet again to see their team win at home. They were lucky in fact that they didn’t have to witness a defeat, as it took the Blue and Whites until the last ten minutes of the match to equalise against visitors Sporting.

In the first half Malaga were the dominant side, keeping the ball and pinning Sporting into their own half. However, as in other recent games, they failed to hit the target when chances presented themselves. The first came to Iván Alejo who slided the ball past the post after Adrián’s cutback to the penalty spot. Overall, they lacked precision and quality and made mistakes at key moments in the game.

Sporting went ahead in the 20th minute of the game when Uros Djurdjevic slotted his penalty past Munir, who went the right way, after Adrián mistimed his challenge and tripped Cristian in the area.

Federico Ricca had a chance to level shortly after but he showed just why he is a defender by dragging his side-foot effort into the side netting when a ball across the face would have been the more sensible option.

The second half began with two scares for Malaga as a shot by Sporting’s Peybernes cannoned off the crossbar from close range and Geraldes, left unmarked by Ricca nearly increased the lead.

However, Sporting’s ascendancy was halted as they went down to ten men when the referee showed Pablo Pérez a straight red card four minutes after coming on as he scythed down Javi Ontiveros, missing the ball completelty.

It didn’t take Malaga long to lose their numerical advantage, though, as Diego González followed his opponent down the tunnel just six minutes later after picking up his second yellow card for an elbow on Álex Alegría as the pair jumped to win an aerial challenge.

But this didn’t stop them finding the equaliser. In the 82nd minute, Gustavo Blanco Leschuk finally brought his 19-game goal drought to end when he latched on to Ricca’s flick-on from Luis Hernández’s long throw, turning and prodding the ball past Mariño from just six yards out.

After that, neither side was able to alter the scoreboard, despite chances wasted by Sporting’s Robin Lod, who rocked the woodwork again, this time from a freekick, and Malaga’s Yevhen Seleznov who nodded his header onto the post.

Despite a strong start to the encounter, Malaga coach Juan Ramón Muñiz admitted that Sporting were “well organised” and that his side were too “tentative” in attack. “Overall I think the crowd can be satisfied with our work because we overcame adversity and rescued the point.”

The draw leaves Malaga in fourth place, just three points away from second place and direct promotion. Their next opponents are precisely the team they want to swap places with: Granada. The Blue and Whites need to beat their Andalusian rivals by more than one goal and hope that third-placed Albacete don’t win their match to slip in behind top team Osasuna.