Muñiz: "The game was very even; the result could have gone either way"

Cifu, with Munir in the background, after conceding.
Cifu, with Munir in the background, after conceding. / Agencia Lof
  • Malaga stay top of Segunda despite losing their first game of the season against second-placed Las Palmas on Sunday

  • By holding out until the 74th minute, the Blue and Whites broke their previous record run without conceding a goal

Malaga's winning run in Segunda is over. After five wins from five, the Blue and Whites suffered their first defeat on Sunday evening when Rafa Mir's strike, with just a quarter of an hour still to play, sealed victory for Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.

"The team worked very hard," said Malaga coach Juan Ramón Muñiz following the game. "It was a very even game, with chances for both sides. The result could have gone either way."

Certainly in the first half, where chances were few and far between, those that were created required decisive action from the goalkeepers.

Javi Ontiveros called Raúl Fernández into action early on with his free kick from 25 yards seemingly creeping into the corner but for the keeper's intervention.

At the other end, Munir had to be sharp to tip Maikel Mesa's powerful header from Rubén Castro's cross over the crossbar.

Castro, the league's top scorer, caused Malaga problems all day. The veteran caused a moment of anxiety for Munir shortly afterwards with a dipping volley which caused the Moroccan to lose his bearings and concede a needless corner.

Early in the second half, the former Betis forward, who Malaga tried to sign in the summer, was at it again. Munir was scrambling as he tried an ambitious chip from the goal line which clipped off the top of the cross bar.

It was not a moment of magic which would undo the visitors, though. In fact it was a long throw in the 74th minute from Dani Castellano which was not dealt with by Cifu at the near post and which fell nicely for substitute Rafa Mir to hook in off the inside of the far post.

A late fightback

The introduction of young Moroccan Hicham for Dani Pacheco made life a little more complicated for the hosts as they defended their lead with just a quarter of an hour to go.

His forceful running put the Canarians on the back foot, and a low strike from outside the box had to be turned around the post by Raúl Fernández.

On the other side, Ontiveros also had a golden chance as the clock ticked down after Cifu rescued a miskick from Mamadou Koné to chip a cross to the far post where the unmarked Ontiveros unleashed a stinging shot, palmed away by the keeper.

"Following Las Palmas' goal, my team reacted and took the game to them," said Muñiz. "I am satisfied by the work of the group but a bit sad because they deserved a more."

The coach, however, conceded that conceding the first goal in this division is often decisive: "That's what it's like here. If you don't take your chances, you're not always going to win."

A new record set

Despite the disappointment of conceding what turned out to be the winning goal, Malaga set a new club record having gone for 518 minutes without letting in a league goal. The previous record in Segunda was 501 minutes, achieved in the 1978-79 season.