Malaga CF brush with a miracle in Gijón

The moment the referee shows the red card to Escassi
The moment the referee shows the red card to Escassi / Agencia LOF
  • Condemned by the expulsion of Escassi in minute 7, Malaga took the lead in a heroic first half, but retreated excessively following a tactical change

Malaga were condemned almost from the very beginning of the match against Sporting in El Molinón on Sunday. Despite this, they miraculously managed to score against a very strong Sporting side, forcing the Red and Whites to work hard to fight back after Juande's goal.

The sending off of Escassi in the seventh minute, even though it reduced Malaga's chances of scoring, allowed us to see a team with more character, intensity and pride than last week.

This can be attributed to Malaga's humiliating defeat in their previous match in Ponferrada, which led José Alberto to change the structure of the team. He opted to ‘return to their roots’ by populating the centre of the field with Luis Muñoz and Jozabed, in exchange for removing a forward (Roberto).

In this way, the Malaga coach wanted to increase pressure. However, it was impossible to know the result of the Oviedo coach’s new plan, because after minute 6 the game changed radically due to Escassi’s expulsion.

José Alberto and his assistants pondered over including Genaro, but ultimately decided not to change the team. The 4-4-1 quickly became a 6-2-1 because Sporting's response included incorporating the full-backs as wingers (they played on the inside), which forced Kevin and Paulino to position themselves as wingers.

Despite this, Málaga were firm and left no gaps, capitalising on their opportunity in the twenty-sixth minute for Juande to score in a second play after a corner. Sporting’s doubts were heightened and their coach soon included another striker (Campuzano) to try to balance the score. The Blue and Whites barely gave them a chance to score before half-time.

Malaga’s heroic first half culminated in four bookings and some exhausted footballers. José Alberto bowed under pressure after the break and removed Jozabed and Kevin. Lombán's entry at the back changed the scene, which in the end was a serious error.

The coach was probably looking to neutralise the presence of the two local strikers and not be dragged into defending with six players, but the inclusion of a third centre-back made the players back up excessively and unbalanced the midfield. Paulino and Luis Muñoz marked Genaro, but left the sidelines exposed in an effort not to leave gaps on the inside.

Sporting took the ball and began the harassment and demolition of an exposed Malaga on the flanks. Two imbalances on the right, between the centre and the side, facilitated Djurdjevic's equaliser in minute 59 and Gaspar's goal in the 80th minute. Malaga CF's next test will come on Sunday 3 October, when they face Fuenlabrada.