Malaga summoned the strength of character on Friday night to recover a two-goal deficit against Lugo with just ten men, thanks to their man of the moment Juande, who struck twice late on to save their blushes at La Rosaleda.
Sergio Pellicer’s team began lethargically and looked miles off the pace as Lugo took full advantage, with first half goals from Hugo Rama and Federico Venâncio.
And when Malaga’s Caye Quintana was shown a red card for a headbutt, even the most optimistic of Malaga fans would have feared the worst. Instead, their plight jolted them into gear.
Both sides were unable to manufacture any clear chances in a dull and tentative opening to the match but that all changed midway through the first half. Lugo, like a cobra deciding to finally pounce, stormed through the Blue and Whites’ defence and took the lead through the impressive Rama, whose sweet strike flew into the bottom corner of Dani Barrio’s net.
Malaga huffed and puffed, as crafty attacking football made way for infrequent set pieces as the only likely avenue for home goals.
In fact, the next decisive action came from a set piece. But instead it fell to Lugo. A free-kick from the right was headed on target by defender Venâncio, forcing a save from Barrio before the Portuguese slammed home from close range at the second attempt.
Worryingly for Malaga, their backline looked more and more vulnerable with every cross, and Lugo nearly helped themselves to a third from another free-kick just before the break. To Malaga's relief, Barrio was there to smother the ball and the referee whistled for an infringement against the Galicians.
Bolstered by newly-introduced substitutes Pablo Chavarría and Joaquín Muñoz in attack, Malaga began the second period more positively, but any chance of a fightback was made even more difficult just ten minutes after the restart.
Angered by a challenge from José Ángel Carrillo, Quintana aggressively pushed his head into his opponent’s, giving the officials no choice but to show an immediate red card.
Surprisingly, however, the visitors faded despite the extra man, and Malaga gave themselves a lifeline when an excellent run and cross from Joaquín was swept in clinically by Juande, who morphed into Malaga's most potent striker in the final stages.
He nearly saw teammates Joaquín and Chavarría combine for an equaliser, but the latter's final pass was not up to scratch and the chance was wasted.
But Juande was not disheartened. On the stroke of injury time, the number five levelled the scores from another Joaquín cross - this time with his head - to grab his third goal in as many games.
As the clock ticked towards the end, Malaga’s star of the night was on for a hattrick, but Malaga couldn't quite conjure a game-winning opportunity.
In the end, they staved off Lugo's remaining endeavours and escaped with an unexpected point. It was a game in which the best and worst of Malaga were on full display.