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Sturdy defensive show earns Malaga priceless point on the road

Defender David Lombán clears the danger.
Defender David Lombán clears the danger. / Agencia LOF
  • Faced with a tricky test in Madrid, Malaga were far from their attacking best but deserved their draw after a solid defensive performance

Malaga still have the best defence in Segunda and it was used to good effect to claim a point on the road as they held Rayo Vallecano to a goalless draw in Vallecas on Thursday night.

After the game, manager Sergio Pellicer likened the encounter to a "boxing match" and praised his team’s display against a side well placed to end the season in the division’s top half.

"I am really pleased with the players, they are the ones who made it happen," he said after the contest, in which his team reduced Rayo to very few chances.

"We have added points in our last four games. We have to keep this going."

Malaga were without regular captain Adrián and top scorer Armando Sadiku due to suspension, but the team – set up to thwart their opponent's attack – stood up to the task.

Rayo troubled the Malaga goal after three minutes, but Alejandro Catena’s header from a corner was cleared off the line by Juankar.

Soon after, keeper Munir was forced into a save from winger Jorge de Frutos who ran at the Malaga backline before unleashing a powerful shot.

The home team had a penalty appeal too, but the referee deemed midfielder Óscar Trejo to have fallen too easily under the pressure of Keidi Bare.

Keidi himself fashioned a rare chance for Malaga, but Rayo stopper Stole Dimitrievski reacted well to stop his long-range effort.

After half time, defender David Lombán tried his luck from a much further distance, but the aspirational strike from his own half was just off target.

The attempt summed up Malaga’s priorities, in a game where perhaps a point was more important than risking anything through attacking adventure.

As for Rayo, De Frutos came close again for Paco Jémez’s side, but he could not control his low shot which fizzed wide of the post.

Midway through the second half, Malaga’s best chance of stealing an unlikely away victory arrived when forward Sergio Buenacasa, in for Sadiku, headed straight at Dimitrievski, following substitute Juanpi’s free-kick delivery.

Rayo kept their visitors under the cosh in the final 20 minutes, but it was one of Malaga's own players that almost got their breakthrough goal as stoppage time approached. Luckily for them, Munir was on his toes to prevent Juande putting through his own goal.

The result means Malaga continue their outstanding defensive record on their travels, where they have let in only 13 goals. Malaga have also claimed three clean sheets on the bounce, coinciding with Pellicer's switch to a back five.

The draw also provides the Black and Whites with some momentum ahead of two successive 'six-pointers' against Albacete (Sunday, 7.30pm) and Deportivo (Wednesday, 7.30pm) - both at La Rosaleda.