Malaga laboured to a 0-0 draw at home to Albacete at La Rosaleda on Sunday night, in a match which showed just how far each side had fallen since their promotion play-off heartbreak last season.
After a quiet first half for Sergio Pellicer’s team, matters worsened midway through the second half when Keidi Bare was dismissed for two yellow card challenges in two minutes.
Much like Malaga’s contest with Tenerife in June – where the Albanian was also red-carded – they once again held out for a draw against a team that created the better opportunities.
After both qualifying for the La Liga promotion play-offs last campaign, each side went into the fixture with their objectives now fixed on evading the relegation trapdoor, and it showed in what was a tight encounter.
Albacete started the game more convincingly, with forward Dani Ojeda seeing his shot blocked excellently by wing-back Cifu from close range after seven minutes.
His strike partner Roman Zozulya also posed a danger to Malaga’s defence, and showed nice footwork in the box before improvising an overhead kick effort just over keeper Munir’s crossbar after ten minutes.
Malaga, in contrast, looked short of ideas, their only chances coming from two Juanpi free kicks which were well saved by Albacete’s 19-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Brazão.
The opening 45 minutes typified both teams’ lack of goals so far this season, although Albacete – who have won three more games away than at home - played some nice football in Malaga’s half.
In the second half, Keidi did his best to liven up a tight game, but saw his long-distance shot parried away by Brazão.
The away team received a boost halfway through the second period, however, when Keidi was sent off picking up two yellow cards in just two minutes for clumsy challenges.
Yet, even with the extra player, Albacete did not have the answers going forward.
Substitute striker Álvaro Jiménez went closest, pouncing on Munir’s poor clearance, but the Moroccan made up for the mistake by saving the rebound.
The Blue and Whites’ brightest moment arrived on 86 minutes, when substitute Hicham audaciously tried a shot from a narrow angle which Brazão had to push away.
Malaga survived Albacete’s final attacking charge in injury time, with Munir’s failure to gather Jiménez’s shot sparking pinball inside the box before defender Álvaro Arroyo fired over the crossbar.
Yet another match finished goalless for Malaga, the fourth out of the last six - an uninspiring restart to the campaign even though they are unbeaten since losing to Huesca on 12 June.
Next up is another bottom of the table clash, again at home, this time against Deportivo (Wednesday, 7.30pm).