Tenerife may be languishing in mid-table, but no team has had an easy ride this season on their visit to the Heliodoro Rodríguez López. For Malaga, who were hoping to return to the top of the table, they knew they were going to have to be at their best from the outset on Saturday evening if they were to become only the second team to win on the holiday island.
Coach Juan Ramón Muñiz, evidently dissatisfied with his wide options in recent weeks and months, seems to have finally stumbled on a formula he’s happy with. For the third successive game, Keidi Bare started in the centre alongside Alfred N’Diaye, with Adrián slotting in to make a compact three, allowing Dani Pacheco and Jack Harper to occupy the free space in behind Gustavo Blanco Leschuk.
The first half produced very few chances, with both sides happy to maintain their shape and possession where possible. Blanco Leschuk, who has now not scored in his last 12 matches, had the first chance as he nodded Pau Torres’ knockdown over the bar.
Also from a set piece, at the other end Filip Malbašić’s deflected header landed on the roof of Munir’s net.
The half-time oranges certainly injected a little bit of life into proceedings as both sides started to find more space and create openings. The first clear chance of the second half came when a misplaced pass ricocheted off the shin of a defender and broke for Dani Pacheco who whipped the ball just wide of the far post with keeper Dani Hernández scrambling frantically to his left.
Another lucky break came for Harper but the Scotsman couldn’t keep his left-footed shot from the right-hand corner of the box down.
Javi Ontiveros, making his return from injury, made an instant impact off the bench after replacing Dani Pacheco, adding penetration to the visitors’ play with his direct running. Just minutes after entering the frey, the local boy tested his range with a rasping effort from 30 yards which passed inches over the cross bar.
It was not all one-way traffic, however, and Tenerife had arguably the best chance of the game when, from the corner, Munir plunged to deny Borja Lasso’s header from just six yards out, before leaping up to claw the ball away from Fernando Coniglio who looked certain to bundle in the rebound from point-blank range, sealing a valuable point for Malaga on the road.
“It all happened very quickly,” the Moroccan keeper told reporters after the game. “The cross was very good and the header came in from very close so I had to react as quickly as possible but the ball was still free so I had to try to get to it first.”
"A good show"
Malaga coach Muñiz for his part said in his post-match press conference that “the fairest thing would have been for both teams to win”. “Both teams performed very well and there were chances at both ends. It was a hard-fought and even game and we put on a good show.”
Malaga remain in the automatic promotion places, one point behind leaders Granada who also drew (0-0 at home to Extremadura).