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Malaga's unbeaten run ends in Elche

The Malaga players after conceding the opening goal.
The Malaga players after conceding the opening goal. / Agencia LOF
  • The hosts were the much better side and bagged a goal in each half to edge Malaga closer to the relegation zone

The optimism of the new era quickly disappeared on Saturday night as Malaga succumbed to a 2-0 defeat away in Elche.

Despite being well-matched in terms of possession, distance covered and passing, the difference was most acutely felt in the final third. Elche not only created lots of chances, many of them were very good one and Malaga were fortunate to return back down south with only two goals more in the against column.

Things started well for Sergio Pellicer's side, with in-form winger Hicham drawing a superb save from Édgar Badía. That, however, proved to be a rare incursion into the Elche area.

Soon the home side found their rhythm and their shooting boots, taking the lead in the 29th minute after a neat move saw Pere Milla picked out on the penalty spot to tuck home past Munir.

The Moroccan goalkeeper then had to be on his toes to prevent veteran Nino's effort from the edge of the box squeezing into the bottom corner.

Defender Gonzalo Verdú came even closer just before the break, clipping the crossbar with a near-post flick from a corner.

It was much the same story after the restart. The introduction of forward Antoñín off the bench, donning his new 19 shirt after signing a professional deal, made some difference. His direct running took the play to Elche, but again the end product was missing.

Eventually, the game was settled at the other end with 11 minutes to go. Debutant Dani Escriche came off the bench and beat the offside trap (with the help of a lengthy VAR check) before tucking the ball past Munir to double his side's lead.

"We knew it was going to be a difficult game, against an opponent in good form," said Pellicer following the game. "In the first 15 minutes we played with good intensity but when they struck first, they gained a lot of confidence and we found it hard to get back into the game."

The defeat was Pellicer's first since being named interim boss, picking up five points from his four games in charge so far. His side are now in 17th place, albeit level on points with 19th-placed Albacete. Next up they face high-flying Numancia at La Rosaleda on Sunday (kick-off 8.30pm).