"Given our last two defeats, this was a game we had to win," said Malaga coach Sergio Pellicer after his team did just that on their visit to Sabadell on Sunday afternoon. Goals from full-back Iván Calero and forward Pablo Chavarría sealed a 2-1 win against the newly promoted side.
Having suffered two defeats on the bounce and conceding six goals in the process against high-flying Mallorca and Espanyol, the visitors came into this game as favourites, with a golden opportunity to get back on track against inferior opposition.
Pellicer's team started well and Chavarría had the first clear chance of the game blocked by keeper Ian Mackay, who gathered the ball on the second attempt after it got trapped between his feet.
Malaga then took the lead in the sixteenth minute when Calero, playing as left wing-back to accommodate Ismael Casas on the right, exchanged a neat one-two with Jairo before beating Mackay in the one-on-one.
The visitors didn't have it all their own way, however. Néstor Querol, who was previously denied by the feet of Dani Barrio from a tight angle, then levelled the scores just three minutes after Malaga had taken the lead. The winger, who was left completely unmarked in the centre, rose highest to head home Josu Ozkoidi's cross from the left.
Malaga continued to push, with both wing backs very high up the pitch, allowing Julio, the academy youngster making his first start, to drop into spaces to connect midfield with attack. The 20-year-old had an opportunity of his own just before half time but couldn't keep his effort on target.
After the break, Pellicer freshened things up with the introduction of Yanis Rahmani and Cristian Rodríguez and with 15 minutes left on the clock, the former crossed from the left for Chavarría to score in almost identical fashion to Sabadell's equaliser.
With the intensive schedule starting to take its toll, Malaga had to show good game management in the closing stages. They were very well organised to close Sabadell's passing channels and were patient when in possession of the ball to see out the game and seal their fifth win of the season.
When asked about a possible push for the play-offs, Pellicer, whose side sit in seventh place, called for some realism: "Right now, one goal could be the difference between climbing three places or dropping three places. We didn't become a bad team when we lost two games, nor are we world beaters now. The most important thing is to be competitive because that's what the club and the fans demand."