Blanco Leschuk double returns Malaga to winning ways

Iván and Juanpi congratulate Blanco Leschuk after scoring his first goal of the night.
Iván and Juanpi congratulate Blanco Leschuk after scoring his first goal of the night. / Salvador Salas
  • The Argentinian forward scored a goal early in each half to ensure that the Blue and Whites returned to the summit of the table

  • On-loan Mamadou Koné made his first league start of the season in place of the injured Jack Harper and laid on both goals

After last week's slip up in Elche, Malaga returned to their imperious best with a complete performance against Numancia on Monday night.

La Rosaleda proved to be a fortress once again as the Blue and Whites recorded their sixth straight victory on home soil thanks to their leading marksman, Argentinian forward Gustavo Blanco Leschuk.

It didn't take long for him to make an impact, heading home the go-ahead goal in the 32nd second despite keeper Juan Carlos getting a full hand to the effort. Much of this goal was owed to work of Mamadou Koné, making his first league start of the season in the absence of the injured Jack Harper. The Senegalese's trickery and pace down the left freed him of his man, before sending in a perfectly-weighted chip to find the head of the unmarked Blanco Leschuk.

Numancia's deep defensive line invited pressure and almost resulted in a second goal for Malaga minutes later when Dani Pacheco tried his luck from the corner of the box; the keeper had to react at the last second to fist the effort away with a number of men, including Blanco Leschuk, practically standing on his toes.

Something similar occurred later in the half as Juanpi's freekick from a tight angle was headed clear by a defender practically out of Juan Carlos' hands.

However, the one time the hosts breached the backline, Juan Carlos came flying out to clatter Blanco Leschuk, with half the ground calling for a red card. The keeper, however, got away with just a yellow despite making no attempt to clear the ball.

Stepping on the gas

After a first half low on action, many were expecting yet another 1-0, a favourite scoreline of coach Juan Ramón Muñiz.

Blanco Leschuk clearly had different ideas, profiting from Koné's high press to bring out a superb save from Juan Carlos, seconds after the restart. From the resulting corner, though, the Argentinian scored his side's second after Juanpi helped to recycle play and fed Koné, this time on the right, whose low cross was swept home at the near post by Malaga's leading scorer.

Koné, clearly enjoying his time on the field and linking nicely with his strike partner, tried his luck himself with a left-footed shot from the edge of the area that was tipped acrobatically over the bar by Juan Carlos.

Seeing that Malaga were starting to run riot, Numancia coach Aritz López Garai made a double change, bringing on two forwards in the shape of Yaw Yeboah and Borja Vieguera.

Clearly content with his side's lead, Malaga's Muñiz responded in kind, bolstering numbers in his midfield with the introduction of Javi Ontiveros and Mehdi Lacen.

This helped to limit the visitors to just a few half chances which didn't complicate life too much for keeper Munir. The one time he was troubled was deep into stoppage time when Alain Oyarzun tried to beat the Moroccan at his near post, but was thwarted by his quick reflexes and strong wrists.

"I don't know if that was our best performance of the season, but I hope to see many more like it," said Muñiz following the game. "We have to continue with the same hunger going forward."

With the victory, Malaga returned to the top of the table, two points clear of Andalusian rivals Granada.