A below-par Malaga were ultimately lucky to escape with a point on Sunday as they failed to break down ten-man Las Palmas who themselves had the better chances to win the game.
The Canary Islanders had Alejandro Suárez sent off late in the first half but Malaga, with a numerical advantage for over 50 minutes, never looked likely to win the game.
In fact, Sergio Pellicer’s side were vastly inferior to their visitors from the outset. Despite having their first-choice centre midfield pairing of Alberto Escassi and Luis Muñoz on the field together for the first time, Las Palmas’ quality shone through and Malaga were unable to create any danger at all in the first half. Efforts from Cristian and Luis Muñoz flew harmlessly into the crowd.
Las Palmas, in contrast, looked likely to score every time they got close to Dani Barrio’s goal. Captain Aythami had the first clear chance of the game but his header from a freekick was straight at Barrio.
Striker Sergio Araujo was a constant thorn in Malaga’s side and had a header just off target moments before Suárez received his marching orders. The defender controversially was shown a straight red card for bundling Caye Quintana to the ground on the edge of the box in what appeared to be an accidental coming together.
To try and take advantage of having the extra man, Pellicer made a double change at half time, bringing on Jozabed and Iván Calero for the ineffective Ismael Casas and Yanis Rahmani. However, his side were still unable to get control of the ball and further tweaks were required with forward Pablo Chavarría coming on to replace centre-back Josua Mejías, who didn’t have the most secure debut, taking too many risks at the back.
And yet Las Palmas continued on the front foot. A stinging shot by Araujo from outside the box was well stopped by Barrio, who was fortunate to keep a clean sheet.
Araujo again threatened, firing wide after his first shot was blocked, then Aythami could have stolen it at the end had he been able to stretch a foot further to connect with a fizzed ball across the face of goal.
While a point and a clean sheet must be taken as a positive, Pellicer highlighed his side’s impotence in attack during his post-match press conference. “We have to be more dynamic,” he said. “We need to be more patient, calmer.”
He was, however, positive with regard to the progress his new-look squad has been making. “I’m happy, not so much with the game, but because the players are getting more minutes. By playing together more, they’ll learn to combine better with each other.”