Malaga moved out of the relegation zone after picking up a vital three points in their relegation battle by beating Tenerife 2-0 at La Rosaleda last Friday evening.
They were boosted pre-match by the return of captain and second-top scorer Adrián, who started in a double-pivot alongside Keidi Bare, behind the attacking quartet of Juankar, Dani Pacheco, Antoñín and Armando Sadiku.
With the exception of one early half-chance for the visitors from a free-kick, the Blue and Whites controlled the first half, but real goalscoring opportunities were at a premium. The first opportunity of note came when Malaga right-back Cifu found himself drifting into the box almost unopposed, but his shot, on his weaker left foot, was unconvincing.
The home side’s patience was rewarded on 26 minutes, however, when a corner drifted in from the right, panicked efforts were made to clear, and the ball fell to Sadiku, who had the calmness to control and fire into the roof of the net from close range.
Malaga had keeper Munir to thank that they carried a lead into the dressing room at half time, after he smothered the ball at Dani Gómez’s feet when the Tenerife number nine was sent racing through on goal.
Tenerife were far more involved after the break and with Malaga lacking a real outlet to counter, the visitors ramped up the pressure.
However, Malaga’s new-found solidity in defence (this was their second clean sheet on the bounce) was once more in evidence and they were given the chance to double their lead with around 15 minutes to go after a lengthy VAR check revealed a handball in the area. Sadiku stepped up and passed the ball into the net for his sixth league goal of the season.
Tenerife’s recent managerial appointment, Rubén Baraja, felt his side had been hard done by, insisting that the VAR had been on Malaga’s side, a suggestion refuted by his Malaga counterpart Víctor Sánchez del Amo: “To the best of my knowledge, VAR isn’t there to benefit any team. It’s there to correct errors. Our victory shouldn’t be reduced to that one [penalty] decision.”
Víctor described Friday’s display as his side’s “most professional” so far this season. “We always looked assured.”