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Spirited Malaga fightback comes up just short

Malaga's defence looks despondent after going behind against Cadiz.
Malaga's defence looks despondent after going behind against Cadiz. / Salvador Salas
  • The Blue and Whites could have easily come away from Saturday's Andalusian derby with a point but couldn't match the league leaders' efficiency in front of goal

Last weekend Malaga were poor; this weekend simply unlucky. The end result was the same both times, however: three points for their rivals, and Malaga's stay in the relegation zone looking increasingly like a feature of this season, not a glitch.

Malaga's lineup on Saturday night was, by necessity, somewhat experimental, with suspensions, international duty and injuries ruling out the likes of Adrián, Munir and Juankar. The club could in fact only name five substitutes, having had their appeal for the postponement of the game rejected the day before the fixture.

The makeshift nature of the hosts' starting eleven was evident in their play. They rarely challenged Cadiz, only looking remotely threatening from set pieces - although in truth, the visitors did little to trouble Malaga's defence either. The only chance of note in the opening stages was Anthony Lozano's header within five minutes, which forced a smart save from Malaga's stand-in goalkeeper Kellyan.

The visitors did go ahead with half an hour on the clock. When good play from Salvi Sánchez on the right led to a scramble in the Malaga box, Lozano eventually tapped the ball in, and a VAR check ruled out a possible offside.

Malaga started the second half much better, with half-chances for Armando Sadiku and Keko, before Antoñín, introduced for Mohamed Benkhemassa just before the hour mark, had the pick of the bunch shortly after coming on. After collecting a clever lobbed pass through the Cadiz defence, he hit a shot on the outside of his right foot just wide of the upright.

This was to be a key moment, as Caye Quintana netted the goal that would ultimately clinch the game for Cadiz around ten minutes later, taking advantage of some sloppy defending to round the keeper and finish neatly from a tight angle.

Malaga did pull one back in the last ten minutes, the impressive Antoñín heading home a inch-perfect Cifu cross, and easily could have equalised. Keko was desperately unlucky to hit the bar from distance, and later squandered two more opportunities to rescue a point, the latter coming deep into injury time.

This ultimately told the story of the game; while Cadiz took the few chances that came their way in this well-balanced encounter, Malaga, due to both poor fortune and poor finishing, did not.

Malaga's coach, Víctor Sánchez del Amo, complained afterwards about what he saw as inconsistent use of VAR - he believed that there was a handball in the leadup to Cadiz's second - but admitted that "efficiency is the key in this game".

His counterpart, Álvaro Cervera, claimed that Malaga's situation will resolve itself when the results start coming. That may be so, but with the club second from bottom and winless in ten Segunda games, fans may find themselves wondering where these victories will come from, and certainly hoping they come sooner rather than later.