Malaga CF saw out a 1-1 draw with Villarreal B at La Rosaleda on Saturday evening, in what was head coach Pepe Mel's debut with the club. The Blue and Whites were slow off the mark but eventually dominated their opponents, with a lack of precision in the second half meaning they came away with just one point.
There were no surprises from Mel with the starting eleven, with N'Diaye anchoring the midfield and the rest of the team revolving around him. The new coach also opted to play the few wingers the club has, and to great effect.
In essence, the game plan was to open the ball out to the wide men, Hervías and Gallar, and let them cross it into the very capable feet of Rubén Castro. This caught Villarreal B by surprise and they weren't expecting the hosts to take that approach.
But the visitors found it easy to hold possession and pass the ball around, given that the space between Malaga's lines was ample, and only amplified by the fact that that style of play is written in the Valencian club's DNA.
Villarreal B then culminated that long, dominating spell with a goal from a set-piece, as Collado fired into the back of the net after a cross from a corner found him at the back of Malaga's six-yard box.
It would only take the Blue and Whites six minutes to find the equaliser. The opening goal didn't seem to faze the hosts, but instead the midfield began demanding more ball circulation.
On the wing, Gallar placed a cross that connected with Castro's subtle touch that guided the ball into the net. Malaga showed more movement, more initiative and more conviction - three elements that had been missing in most of the team's games this season.
The Blue and Whites had placed the foundations of what would be a dominating second half performance. They came out looking to back Villarreal B into a corner, with both full-backs also participating in attack whenever they could.
The visitors had no choice but to give up on trying to score a second goal, while at the same time Gallar and Villalba also began to participate more and Malaga showed even more fluidity.
Goalkeeper Manolo Reina was just another spectator, waiting for the home team to score the winning goal. The Andalusians had multiple chances to take the lead; Castro wasted two opportunities from perfect crosses, while Gallar attempted a near-impossible volley from the edge of the box.
The Blue and Whites showed few signs of anxiety in the final minutes while the substitutions also did very little to make a difference. But in the end, despite the draw, the team can only get better.
Malaga will next play away from home against Racing Santander on Saturday 1 October at 4.15pm, as the team continues searching for a second win of the season climb up the table from last place.