Luis Muñoz and Juande show their frustration at the end of the game. / LOF AGENCY

Familiar shortcomings leave Malaga CF five points from safety

There was late heartbreak for Pepe Mel’s side who were denied a point against the league leaders through a stoppage-time winner

Daryl Finch
DARYL FINCH

Malaga CF are now five points from safety after their 11th defeat this campaign, losing 2-1 to league leaders Eibar on Sunday afternoon.

New signings Arvin Appiah and Lago Junior started the game on the bench during a match in which the visitors’ shortcomings were once more in evidence.

Despite getting a hard-fought equaliser in the 88th minute, Pepe Mel’s team gave away two sloppy goals which cost them the match.

It was Jozabed who was at fault for the opener, which came after half an hour at Ipurúa. The midfielder’s ill-judged backwards header, while virtually under no pressure, sent Stoichkov through on goal. The Spanish striker, once linked with Malaga, needed no invitation to smash the ball past Rubén Yáñez, off the inside of his near post.

Malaga went toe-to-toe with Eibar with regard to matching their high press but, unlike their high-flying rivals, they struggled to get anywhere near goal, with a distinct lack of ability to reach the final third.

That changed somewhat in the second half when Lago Junior was given his debut. The Ivorian winger brought the visitors much higher up the pitch but it wasn’t Malaga’s forward players carrying the threat.

Equaliser

Midfielder Alfred N’Diaye came closest on a few occasions and then, practically out of nothing, came the Malaga equaliser. When the ball dropped to Argentinian centre-back Esteban Burgos on the edge of the box, few expected his volley to find the back of the net. However, a huge deflection off Juan Berrocal took it past Enzo Zidane to level the scores.

Malaga’s joy was short-lived, however. Berrocal made almost immediate amends, heading home the winner from substitute Álvaro Vadillo’s inswinging corner in stoppage time after losing marker Juande far too easily.

Nacho Pérez, standing in for the suspended Pepe Mel for the final time, described the defeat as “very hard” to take. “We deserved more,” he said. “We were very brave and we went for it at all times.”

“The league table is not representative of what I’m seeing on the field,” he insisted.

His side are now five points from safety - three more than before the winter break.