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Malaga put Oviedo to the sword to record back-to-back wins

Malaga's players celebrate their second.
Malaga's players celebrate their second. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • Despite Munir's late blunder, Malaga were the better side throughout and were good value for their third victory of the season

Two weekends; two wins for Malaga. A phrase which may sound strange to those following the club's recent travails, and indeed, it could have been a more straightforward affair but for a late error by keeper Munir at La Rosaleda on Saturday night.

The hosts started brightly, with Dani Pacheco setting the tone. The former Liverpool man only made the starting XI due to a last-minute injury to Cristo, and he was quick to stake his claim to a first-team berth, driving into the box and forcing Nereo Champagne into a save within the first few minutes.

It was Pacheco again who initiated Malaga's next moment of danger. His sweeping ball set Renato Santos free down the right, and when the Portuguese winger delivered a low cross to the near post, Armando Sadiku stooped to redirect an effort on goal which the keeper again showed himself equal to.

Oviedo were more than just spectators in the first half, however, breaking into the box on several occassions and showing some threat. Overall, though, the real chances were nearly all Malaga's, with Renato Santos, Pacheco again, and Mikel all having efforts at goal denied. Coach Víctor Sánchez del Amo would have been frustrated to see his side go in at half-time on level terms, but he did not have to wait too long after the restart for Malaga to make the breakthrough.

Antoñín grows in stature

On 54 minutes, the indomitable Antoñín chased down a speculative lofted ball hit down the left channel. Carlos Hernández seemed to be shepherding him away from the goal successfully, but Antoñín turned well to give himself an angle to shoot and produced a precise finish to the goalkeeper's left.

Already a fans' favourite, the Malaga-born forward only bolstered his reputation minutes later when he burst into the box again and was brought down, earning his side a spot-kick that Adrián squeezed past the keeper.

The visitors' second-half showing had not been very impressive even before conceding; afterwards, the game was almost entirely in Malaga's control, although their inefficiency in front of goal again made itself manifest.

Sadiku was unlucky not to put the game to bed on the 70-minute mark, when he hit a sweetly-struck left-footed effort narrowly wide of the left upright. Minutes later, substitute Hicham made his way through a porous Oviedo defence with similar ease, only to lift the ball over the keeper and the crossbar when he could have put it to either side.

Munir's late blushes

Fans would be left wondering whether these misses would prove costly when Munir fumbled an awkward high ball and allowed Ibrahima Baldé to tap home. More drama followed, as both Oviedo midfielder Lolo González and Malaga coach Víctor were dismissed in the dying minutes.

Ultimately, though, Malaga are three points closer to survival, and after only winning once in the opening 11 games, they now have two on the trot.

Speaking after the game, Víctor said the only black mark today was his sending off. "All I did was ask the referee why Oviedo's keeper only got a warning for timewasting in the first half, but ours got booked the first time he did it in the second. I said sorry to him afterwards, but I think a red card was harsh."

"The important thing today, though, is the victory, the happiness of the team and the fans", he continued. The manager claimed that “above all we have the satisfaction of a reward for all the work we put in. We fought hard, and we didn’t allow them any chances. Their goal was bad luck on our part, it was a very high ball which didn't let Munir make his mind up. It wasn't an easy ball to judge. We put in a complete performance in defence and in attack."

When asked about Antoñín's showing, Víctor said he preferred not to comment on individual performances. He was keen to emphasise the importance of the academy as a whole though, saying "Whenever a problem arises, the academy is where we look for solutions. We're very close to them, and lots of youth players have made their way into the first-team picture now."