A missed opportunity

Youssef En-Nesyri couldn't find a winner after replacing Borja Bastón.
Youssef En-Nesyri couldn't find a winner after replacing Borja Bastón. / Ñito Salas
  • Malaga controlled Saturday's tie against Girona but couldn't get the breakthrough before Chory Castro's red card

It was a close affair on Saturday night as José González led his new side at La Rosaleda for the first time. With the team's defence reliable throughout, it was the usual shortcomings which meant that Malaga couldn’t find the breakthrough goal and claim all three points as they failed to create much in the way of an attack.

La Rosaleda had an excitement to it, despite the windy and rainy conditions. Malaga started well; Keko narrowly missed the bottom left corner after nine minutes and this was quickly followed by a thumping effort from José Recio on the edge of the box, which flew wide of the left post.

The creativity of the duo allowed Malaga to exert pressure on Girona’s defence, which was desperate at times; Jonás Ramalho received a yellow card for a cynical challenge on Adrián on 33 minutes.

Keko again came close with a header that was palmed away by Bono in the Girona goal, low to his right.

However, Girona held firm and the pressure they imposed in their own half ensured that most of Malaga’s chances were off target.

The visitors looked dangerous on the counter-attack, especially when Malaga committed too many men forward, but they struggled to show this until the second half, when they re-emerged particularly energised.

Johan Mojica was effective, using his pace to create a lot of chances for Girona from the left wing. It was from that side that they fashioned their best chance of the match when Cristhian Stuani beat keeper Roberto to Álex Granell’s free kick, but lifted his header just over the crossbar.

Girona’s rise worried González on the Malaga bench and he moved to bring on both Youssef En-Nesyri and Samuel García – the latter receiving a warm welcome on his return ‘home’.

The game started to open up for both sides. A powerful Granell strike from the edge of the box was deflected off the back of a Malaga defender, but the resulting corner was then wasted. Malaga broke on the right wing in response, but Roberto Rosales’s cross to En-Nesyri was headed over under pressure.

At a time when they had the game where they wanted it, Malaga’s search for the winner was dealt a severe blow in the 78th minute when Chory Castro picked up his second yellow for a bad foul on Marc Muniesa.

However, despite the setback, the home side controlled their opponents well with their organisation and shape. Though they conceded two chances, a long-range effort from Borja García and a curling shot from Stuani, neither were allowed sufficiently close to goal to trouble the keeper.

A foul on Recio in stoppage time gave Malaga a late chance, but Adrián’s block on the defender, which turned into an inadvertent shot, saw the ball float across the face of goal as Malaga’s supporters behind the goal tried to suck it over the line.

A point isn’t the worst result given the circumstances, but having controlled the game so well, Malaga will be left ruing the two points that escaped them.

The Blue and Whites remain bottom of the table on 13 points.