Normal service is resumed

Munir came out on top in his personal duel with Real Zaragoza forward Marc Gual.
Munir came out on top in his personal duel with Real Zaragoza forward Marc Gual. / AGENCIA LOF
  • Goals from Federico Ricca and Adrián sealed all three points during a closely-contested clash at La Romareda

  • A clinical victory against Real Zaragoza means Malaga are just one point off leaders Granada as the season goes into its second half

Malaga put their embarrassing 3-0 reversal against Reus last week firmly behind them with a clinical 2-0 victory in Zaragoza on Sunday evening.

Coach Juan Ramón Muñiz changed things ahead of his side's visit to La Romareda, reverting to a 4-3-3 system rarely employed until this point. However, the biggest surprise was his choice of personnel as he brought four youngsters into the matchday squad with two getting unexpected starts: Hugo Vallejo and Keidi Bare.

The changes had the desired effect as Malaga scored two goals for just the eighth time this season.

Captain Federico Ricca gave his side the lead in the 30th minute when he headed home Renato Santos' freekick from the left, almost completely unmarked at the back post.

That lead was doubled late in the second half courtesy of substitute Adrián, whose forceful running saw him benefit from a few lucky breaks before sending keeper Cristian Álvarez the wrong way in the one-on-one.

That's not to say, however, that Muñiz had pulled off a masterstroke. In fact, Malaga were far from having the game all their own way and scored from their only two efforts on goal.

Real Zaragoza coach, Víctor Fernández, recognised this following the game. He said: "They were super efficient. I think they only had two or three shots, and Munir was in great form."

The Malaga stopper proved to be the difference as he pulled off a string of fine, reaction saves to keep the hosts at bay.

The Moroccan denied Jorge Pombo in the opening exchanges, palming his strike from the edge of the box to safety, before spreading himself to smother Marc Gual's effort early in the second half.

"We were better in both penalty areas," said Muñiz. "We fought hard and we managed the game against a good team, one that is on the up, and a crowd that knows how to turn the screw."

The result means that Malaga pass the halfway point in the season just one point off Granada who sit top. Despite a shaky run, which included five defeats in the previous ten matches, Malaga have still won more games than any other side in the division (12) and boast the third-strongest defence (only 16 conceded).