Monday, 1 May 2023, 22:59
A capacity crowd at La Rosaleda was left in disbelief this Monday night, 1 May, after Rubén Castro’s late penalty miss meant the Blue and Whites had to settle for a 0-0 draw against Huesca.
Despite recent excellent form, a draw against a direct rival in their battle against the drop leaves the Blue and Whites staring down the barrel of relegation, six points from safety with just four games left to play.
Huesca, clearly happy to come away from this fixture with a draw, sat deep with their five at the back, dutifully patrolling the edge of the penalty area from the get-go, batting away any lofted balls tossed into their penalty area.
Malaga, also playing with five in defence, lacked the creativity to pick the lock in the first half. Even when an opportunity to break on the transition presented itself, the occasion seemed to get to Sergio Pellicer’s side, with a lack of precision in the final third seeing attack after attack break down.
The result was not a single noteworthy attack from either side in the opening 45 minutes.
The game needed a kickstart after the break, but the first real chance went completely against the run of play and in favour of the visitors. After a game characterised by a complete lack of space to operate in, somehow Huesca right-back Andrei Ratiu found himself in acres of it but, fortunately for Malaga, hit his shot straight at the legs of keeper Rubén Yáñez.
This prompted a change from the bench from Pellicer, who sacrificed his superfluous centre-back (Esteban Burgos) and brought on Lago Junior to further populate the attack.
This did the trick, to an extent, as Malaga started to carve out opportunities, mostly from the left-hand side. Pablo Chavarría, Lago Junior and Fran Villalba all had speculative efforts until Malaga were presented the clearest one of all.
When Alberto Escassi was brought down in the penalty area with just over ten minutes to go, the appeals from the crowd seemed to have gone ignored for an age. That was until the referee stopped play some considerable time later to go and consult the pitch-side monitor.
Eventually the penalty was given and Rubén Castro, Malaga’s most-reliable goalscorer this season, stepped up.
However, silence engulfed the entire ground as the 42-year-old’s strike was spectacularly saved by Andrés Fernández high to deny Malaga what would have been a scarcely deserved win.
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