Malaga started their year with a hard-fought win over bottom-placed Alcorcón this Monday evening. Head coach Jose Alberto stuck to 4-4-2 formation, with Ramón, Chavarría amd Ismael Casas coming into the starting XI, as several players had tested positive over the Christmas break.
The game started off fairly even in possession, as both teams approached their attacks with caution. But the visitors soon took over the reins of the game after ten minutes, although not really being able to create many chances.
Alcorcón did their best to thwart Malaga's progress, squeezing their players through the middle and forcing the Andalusians to look for space down the flanks.
This even forced Paulino to come down from attack on several occasions, looking for the ball and offering a lonely Escassi an alternative to the slow-building passing at the back.
The hosts did shine on some occasions, but ran into the same problem as the Blue and Whites, and couldn't really build up their attacks.
Malaga improved towards the end of the opening 45 minutes, and even had a good chance to open the scoring if it were not for a bad final pass into the box.
But the Blue and Whites seemed sluggish, as if the Christmas break was still in the back of their minds, and half-time couldn't come quickly enough.
José Alberto made no substitutions at the break, clearly happy enough with how his players had performed.
Alcorcón started the second half much stronger, noticing that the game was very much open and could still be won; and the hosts took control of the game for the first 15 minutes, but still with very few chances to show for it.
Malaga subbed Kevin and Ismael on into the game with half an hour to go, in the hope the wide players could inject some much-needed energy into the team.
Malaga did slowly come back into the match, but both teams were still locking horns, unable to break the deadlock.
And then, with ten minutes to go, Paulino scored the first of the night from a corner. The Malaga player took advantage of the first Alcorcón defensive error of the night, heading the ball in from close range after it came off a home player.
Malaga then hung on until the end of the game, maintaining their one-goal lead, to pick up a much-needed, first away win of the season and kick start 2022.
The Blue and Whites will now face Sporting Gijón on Sunday, as they return to La Rosaleda for the first time this year in their quest to keep their promotion hopes alive.