Malaga squeezed past newly promoted Castellón to earn their first victory of the season, thanks to an exquisite goal from teenager Ramón whose brilliance decided the game in the region of Valencia on Saturday night.
Making only his second competitive start for the Blue and Whites, Ramón nicked the ball off full-back Joseba Muguruza and galloped down the left wing before floating an audacious effort into the top corner with the outside of his boot.
Dented by the recent exits of Tete Morente and Cifu, Malaga’s squad - which has undergone significant surgery in recent weeks - showed their resolve against a team who dominated the ball but created too few opportunities to win, mustering only one shot on target.
Malaga’s only blots on a largely positive evening were injuries to Hicham Boussefiane and captain Ismael Casas. Hicham in particular was unlucky to pick up a knock just moments after coming on as a late substitute.
The pair, alongside Juande, Benkhemassa, Boulahroud and Rolón, were the only players from last season to feature in the encounter.
Manager Sergio Pellicer's line-up also included a debut for full-back Matos - signed on loan from Cádiz – who formed part of a back four that will be buoyed by keeping a clean sheet
Before Ramón's goal on 18 minutes, Malaga suffered an early scare when Castellón striker Juanto struck over the crossbar following a cross to the back post.
Malaga nearly doubled their advantage after half-time when centre-back Alberto Escassi’s free-kick was saved by Castellón stopper Óscar Whalley. Yanis Rahmani was well positioned to convert the rebound but couldn’t direct a shot on target.
Juande was next in line to threaten a second goal but headed wide with a quarter of the game remaining.
Malaga had to weather a final Castellón flurry after the late injuries, with goalkeeper Dani Barrio doing well to paw away substitute Gustavo Ledes’ shot from the edge of the box, although the attempt looked to be drifting just past the post.
Following the match, Pellicer said: “The win has made us believe. The team showed class and the courage to suffer [for the result].”
Just two days after their first victory Malaga announced the transfer of Keidi to Barcelona-based club Espanyol for two million euros. This sum could increase by another million if certain objectives are reached.
With two consecutive away games under their belt, Malaga’s next fixture is at home to Alcorcón on Friday evening.