surinenglish

New optimism, same result

Keeper Munir claims a high ball in front of a season-high crowd at La Rosaleda on Saturday afternoon.
Keeper Munir claims a high ball in front of a season-high crowd at La Rosaleda on Saturday afternoon. / Ñito Salas
  • Malaga's hopes of automatic promotion were extinguished with a late 1-0 defeat at the hands of direct rivals Mallorca

  • A record crowd at La Rosaleda on Saturday witnessed the first defeat of the Víctor Sánchez era

The bubble has burst. Last week's 4-1 win in Alcorcón proved to be a false dawn as Malaga reverted to type on Saturday and suffered yet another late loss at La Rosaleda, this time to direct rivals for promotion, Mallorca.

A season-high 23,621 spectators were in attendance, and although the result went according to the form book, the quality of football on show was notably higher, especially in the first half as both sides created a number of chances.

Víctor Sánchez, sat on the home bench for the first time, had instructed his players to attack and they should have been awarded an early penalty when Javi Ontiveros took a tumble in the area under the clumsy challenge of Fran Gámez.

At the other end, Munir was fortunate to deflect Ante Budimir's close -range effort over the bar with the ball striking him on the thigh and squirming centimetres over the frame of the goal.

There was nothing fortunate about his next intervention as he athletically tipped Dani Rodríguez's shot from the edge of the area around the post.

However, Malaga continued to pile on the pressure and both Adrián and Gustavo Blanco Leschuk both just missed the target with their efforts from outside the area.

In the second half, it was Malaga on the front foot once again with Ontiveros, clearly enjoying his time under the new coach, trying to find his range from left wing, failing to test keeper Manolo.

Luck was on the visitors' side moments later when Adrián's first-time shot took an enormous deflection but remained within stretching distance of Manolo to tip over the bar.

However, after the all-action first half, things started to die down in the second as the tension of the occasion started to creep in. But it was a usual handicap of Malaga which showed its face again when, as stoppage time approached, Leo Suárez swept home Abdón Prats' low cross from the left to gift Mallorca a precious three points in the race for promotion.

This leaves Malaga in the final playoff spot with Deportivo La Coruña breathing down their neck, just a point behind, but coach Víctor Sánchez was still able to see the positives: "We played most of the game in their half but football is all about taking your chances. Last week we did that but this time we weren't clinical enough. They [Mallorca] had two [sic] attempts on goal and scored one."