Malaga kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 win away to Lugo on Sunday afternoon. A late goal from Stefan Scepovic sealed the win for the Costa side after a hard-fought encounter.
Coach Sergio Pellicer made seven changes to the side that lost 3-0 to Almeria on Tuesday evening, but it was the hosts who started the brighter. Indeed, the Galicians thought they had taken the lead around the half-hour mark when Marcelo Djaló found the back of the net. However, the goal was correctly chalked off as keeper Juan Soriano had been fouled in the build-up.
Of greater concern for Malaga was the injury suffered by Luis Muñoz - the midfielder was replaced after barely a quarter of an hour with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
After the interval, Malaga showed greater intensity and had a good chance in the 56th minute when Mohamed Benkhemassa seized upon a ball that the home goalkeeper was unable to control. He found Jairo Samperio, but his effort was cleared by defender Frederico Venâncio.
Despite their improvements, Malaga still appeared frail at the back and almost paid the price moments later when Soriano was forced to make a good point-blank save to keep out Chris Ramos’ header.
Just as the game seemed to be heading towards a draw, Malaga won a freekick on the left-hand edge of the box. The ball was whipped in by David Lombán and parried off the line by goalkeeper Ander Cantero. It then fell to substitute Stefan Scepovic, and the Serbian struck home on the half-volley for his first goal for the club.
Following the game, Pellicer commented: “We’ve taken a step closer to our target but we’re not done yet”.
The win takes Malaga onto 45 points with nine games left (50 points is seen as the rough requirement to avoid relegation). Pellicer added: “We’re still taking each game as it comes and hoping to distance ourselves from those below and to get closer to those above.”
The coach went on to say that if the team could replicate their away form at La Rosaleda they could be sitting comfortably in the play-off places. As it stands, Malaga are in ninth position, seven points adrift of Rayo Vallecano in the final play-off place having played a game more.
Next up for Malaga is a home game against bottom club Albacete on Sunday (kick off 2pm).