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All-action Juande has a big hand in Malaga's defeat to Leganés

Malaga captain David Lombán after failing to keep out the opening goal.
Malaga captain David Lombán after failing to keep out the opening goal. / Salvador Salas
  • The young defender scored at both ends before giving away the decisive penalty with twenty minutes to go

It was a day Malaga defender Juande won't forget in a hurry. The academy graduate played a part in every key moment of his side's 2-1 home defeat against Leganés on Saturday which leaves his side comfortably in mid-table after 13 games.

Coach Sergio Pellicer only made one change, bringing in Alejandro Benítez for José Matos, but with it came an unexpected change of formation with the normally right wing-back Iván Calero moving to left midfield in an unorthodox 4-4-2.

The hosts started the game strongly and had the better opportunities to open the scoring. Calero's improvised volley from a cut-back almost caught out veteran keeper Iván Cuéllar, while Yanis Rahmani repeated the action in an almost mirror image.

Rubén Pardo then came close for the visitors with a free-kick which landed on the roof of the net before having a hand in the opening goal.

Leganés captain Unai Bustinza, who had until then been pegged back by the combination of Calero and stand-in left-back Juande, then finally found space in the 33rd minute to ghost in behind David Lombán and latch on to Rubén Pardo's inch-perfect ball over the top. The right-back controlled the ball with his first touch and his second forced an unfortunate ricochet off Juande to beat keeper Juan Soriano - very much against the run of play.

It wasn't until just over half way into the second half that the young defender could attone. He went in bravely among high boots to head in Rahmani's free-kick from the left at the far post to level the scores.

Just minutes later though and his good work was undone - albeit in controversial circumstances. The referee signalled for a penalty after Juande's seemingly innocuous challenge on José Manuel Arnaiz; the decision was ratified by the VAR, much to the surprise of everyone wearing blue and white.

Despite guessing the right way, Juan Soriano couldn't get a hand on Sabin Merino's spot-kick which nestled into the top corner with twenty minutes still left to play.

The introduction of winger Joaquín Muñoz brought some variety to the hosts' play but the side recently relegated from La Liga, and among the favourites to go up this year, showed no signs of surrendering their lead.

Malaga assistant coach Manolo Sánchez, filling in for the suspended Pellicer, said that he didn't think there was a big difference between the sides: "There weren't many clear opportunities in the game, least of all for them."

He added: "I take my hat off to the players. We went toe to toe with a team on another level to us. Playing like this we can achieve a lot."

Sánchez will remain in the hotseat for Malaga's next match at Montilivi on Tuesday against Girona (7pm).