Malaga's faint playoff hopes suffered a huge blow on Tuesday evening after the Blue and Whites were defeated 3-0 at home to high-flying Almeria. Their Andalusian rivals made the most of their opportunities to secure a comfortable win and bring Sergio Pellicer's side's four-match unbeaten run to an end.
The visitors took the lead in the 12th minute with the game’s first clear-cut opportunity. Ramón gave away possession in the midfield and the ball was seized upon by José Carlos Lazo, who duly found Lucas Robertone in space. The Argentinian midfielder’s shot found the bottom right-hand corner, beating Dani Barrio at his near post. Malaga initially responded well to falling behind and Caye Quintana did well to cut inside, although his subsequent effort was too high.
Even so, the next flashpoint occurred at the Malaga end when Umar Sadiq was brought down by Juande in the 25th minute. The referee initially pointed to the spot and showed the Malaga defender a yellow card. However, he went to the pitchside monitor after consulting with the VAR and overturned the decision as replays showed Juande had got the ball before the man. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be long before Almeria doubled their advantage.
Once more, Lazo was able to pick up a slack Malaga ball but this time he launched a thunderbolt from well outside the box which gave the keeper no chance.
Ahead of the second half, boss Sergio Pellicer brought on Jairo Samperio and Alberto Escassi to try to bring his side back into the game. At first, his changes seemed to be working and Samperio was involved in a few good moves. In the 53rd minute, Malaga did have the ball in the back of the net through Caye but he was correctly ruled to have been offside in the build-up.
This good spell of Malaga play eventually petered away and Almeria seemed content to see out the rest of the game. In the 77th minute, the visitors put the seal on their victory through Sadiq. The Nigerian striker initially took the ball past Dani Barrio, who had come well out of his net. At this point, Alexander was on hand to hook the ball off the line but his clearance could only find Almeria’s Manu Morlanes. He fed the ball to Sadiq, who instinctively sidefooted home before the Malaga defence could get back into position.
Next up for Malaga is an away trip to Lugo on Sunday (kick-off 6:15pm).