Ten-man Malaga hold on to gift Romero first victory as head coach

Pablo Fornals celebrates scoring the equaliser with coach Marcelo Romero.
Pablo Fornals celebrates scoring the equaliser with coach Marcelo Romero. / Salvador Salas
  • The Blue and Whites won their first game in ten matches with a 2-1 victory over Las Palmas at La Rosaleda on Monday night

It was a momentous occasion for Malaga's new coach Marcelo Romero as he registered his first win since taking the helm at the end of December. Their 2-1 victory over Las Palmas at La Rosaleda on Monday night brought an end to a run of ten games without a victory, but they had to do it the hard way, seeing out the last 20 minutes with ten men.

Malaga’s start to the first half saw Keko heavily involved down the right-hand side, and it was from his cross that the first chance came, but Camacho snatched at his effort and his volley failed to trouble Javi Varas. The former Sevilla goalkeeper was forced into action five minutes later when he held Chory’s drive from Keko’s pass, before he was nearly embarrassed when a seemingly harmless cross from the Uruguayan bounced just over his bar.

Las Palmas were proving to be a threat on the counter, with on-loan PSG forward Jesé feeding Hamburg loanee Alen Halilović, but his curling effort was easily dealt with by Carlos Kameni. Despite only having just that one effort, it was the visitors who took the lead just before the twenty-minute mark, after Lemos’ curled free-kick found its way past Kameni from 25 yards after Viera had been fouled.

Malaga responded and appealed for a penalty two minutes later after Charles felt a push in his back, but, for the second time in two weeks, the Brazilian was booked for his complaints to the referee. The visitors found themselves in a similar position four minutes later to the one from which they scored, but Viera fired wide from the set piece.

Three minutes after Keko cut inside and saw his weak left-foot effort saved, the hosts were level. Chory’s corner came to Pablo Fornals at the back post, whose speculative lob surprised Varas and the Malaga crowd when it nestled in the corner. On the half-hour mark, Malaga believed they had taken the lead, but the linesman raised his flag to rule out Keko’s dink after a smart break.

The last significant action of the first half occurred ten minutes before the break, when Charles gave the hosts the lead when he prodded home a Keko's pass across the face of goal after the latter broke Las Palmas’ offside trap.

The Blue and Whites kept up the pressure at the start of the second half, and four minutes in could have had a third when Lemos appeared to take Charles out in the penalty area, before José Rodríguez saw his effort in the resulting melee saved.

However, just as in the first half, Las Palmas were a threat up front and could have taken the lead themselves on the fifty-minute mark, but Kevin-Prince Boateng’s deflected effort cannoned back off the post with Kameni well beaten. The game really started to open up, and Lemos almost undid his good work for the goal when he turned into trouble in the form of Fornals, but Varas came to his defender’s rescue, making a smart block in the one-on-one.

Eight minutes later Malaga nearly gave themselves some breathing space as Martín Demichelis' header cannoned off the underside of the crossbar before bouncing on the goal line. The game began to see a couple of ill-tempered moments, with Jesé and Camacho both seeing yellow for protesting against the referee’s decisions. However, with just over twenty minutes to go, José Rodríguez, playing his first game at La Rosaleda, was sent off for a second yellow card offence.

The red card saw Las Palmas pile the pressure on, with Kevin-Prince Boateng twice being denied by Kameni, firstly when he was in an offside position and secondly from a header. The visitors kept pressing and only a block from substitute and Real Madrid loanee Diego Llorente denied Vicente Gómez a certain goal five minutes from the end.

Las Palmas felt they would get one last chance, and deep into stoppage time it fell to the feet of Jesé, but he could only sweep his curling effort inches wide of the far post.