As he did on the opening day in Santander, Malaga captain Adrián came to the rescue for his side on Saturday evening, converting his penalty kick in the 80th minute to seal a share of the points against Las Palmas.
Following the high-profile sales of Javi Ontiveros and Michael Santos to Villarreal and Copenhagen, respectively, Malaga coach Víctor Sánchez del Amo had many more options available to him for the fixture. Into the squad came Mikel Villanueva, Juanpi (both starters), Kellyan, Esteban Rolón and Keko, though there was still no spot for new signing Shinji Okazaki.
Hugo Vallejo, who started up top in Santander, was left on the bench, leaving Adrián in a ‘false nine’ position ahead of Juanpi.
Despite the former playing out of position and the latter lacking match practice, the pair combined well in the final third. Adrián had Malaga’s first clear chance when the ball broke to him after a poor kick from keeper Josep but Malaga’s Mr Versatile dragged his shot wide of the post.
Juanpi came closer, curling his effort from just outside the area onto the post.
At the break, the hosts will have been the happier of the two sides having maintained better possession and created the better chances.
However, an error nine minutes after the restart changed everything. When Mikel overran the ball as he advanced out of defence, Pedri seized on the opportunity to play a first-time pass into the path of veteran striker Rubén Castro who nonchalantly chipped the ball over Munir from almost 40 yards out, catching the goalkeeper in no man’s land.
This freak goal, against the run of play, gave Pepe Mel’s side a massive boost and the Canarians almost grabbed a second when Rubén Castro gave Mikel the runaround on the byline before teeing up Lemos who was denied by a superb save from Munir who acrobatically pushed the ball over the bar for a corner.
However, with the introduction of Hugo Vallejo, Malaga showed much greater urgency in attack.
With the final ten minutes approaching, a quick flick from Adrián into Juanpi created danger for the Las Palmas backline; Martín Mantovani took evasive action, clipping the Venezuelan on the ankle from behind, resulting in a penalty.
Last season’s top scorer, Adrián, stepped up and tucked the spotkick away with aplomb, sending Josep the wrong way.
In the dying embers of the game, Juanpi almost caught Josep out but his dipping effort from long range was unorthodoxly pushed over the frame of the goal.
"We deserved more"
“If we analyse the 90 minutes, Ithink we can say we deserved more,” said coach Víctor following the game.
“We did everything possible to try and win against a good side. We did a lot to disrupt their flow so I’m happy with our work both in attack and defence.”
This sentiment was echoed by full-back Cifu who had to be re-registered after signing a contract extension after his previous deal had expired: “I felt that we controlled the play. They hardly had any chances and we created a lot of dangerous moments.”