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Arvin Appiah became the first Englishman to score for Malaga. Marilú Báez
Malaga CF's final game in professional football ends in predictable stalemate

Malaga CF's final game in professional football ends in predictable stalemate

After a nightmare season ended with a last-minute equaliser for Ibiza, a half-full La Rosaleda demonstrated its displeasure towards the players and club management

Toby Francis

Malaga

Sunday, 28 May 2023, 06:33

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Malaga headed into Saturday evening’s clash with Ibiza with their doomed fate already sealed. Playing their first match since relegation to the third tier was mathematically confirmed at Alavés last weekend, the home side failed to give a sparsely filled La Rosaleda stadium much to get excited about.

A very uneventful first half was followed by a slightly more open second. Arvin Appiah opened the scoring for Malaga when his long range effort squeezed into the corner of the net in the 61st minute.

However, in a manner befitting their season, Malaga failed to hold onto their lead, conceding late on when the aptly named Juan Ibiza turned home the rebound from a comically defended free-kick seconds before full time.

A funeral march to Primera RFEF

There was certainly no end-of-season carnival atmosphere from those who bothered to attend. In fact, a majority of the well under half-full stadium took every opportunity they could to jeer the players and club management - namely administrator José María Muñoz - who they believe have let the club down this season.

Many supporters chose to wear black to "mourn the death" of their beloved club; the ‘Grada de Animación’ ultras, meanwhile, protested outside pre-game and didn’t enter until the 25th minute - a nod to the 25 consecutive years of professional football that has now come to an end.

Loud whistles were audible as the line-ups were announced, as the players went off for half time, when Ibiza equalised and, loudest of all, at full-time when only a handful of supporters applauded the players off the pitch.

A match no-one wanted to play

On the pitch, the game itself was, in truth, a non-event. With Ibiza also having suffered the same fate of relegation, it was a game that neither side wanted or needed to play.

Both teams lacked any sort of tempo or imagination in a first half that seemed to drag on for hours. Javi Vázquez tested Rubén Yáñez in the early stages before a half-hour period where both sides barely managed a shot on goal.

Former Sevilla wide man Coke came closest to breaking the deadlock when he chopped inside and clipped a shot onto the roof of Yáñez’s net. Shortly before the break, Malaga created their best opening of the half when bright spark Cristian got in down the left-hand side and forced Ibiza’s Germán Parreño into action for the first time before the rebound was blasted high into the stand, prompting yet more jeers.

Appiah’s half-time introduction

On-loan English winger Arvin Appiah was introduced by coach Sergio Pellicer at half-time, replacing the anonymous Aleix Febas and to give Malaga a much-needed directness. His pace and close control caused Ibiza far more problems than anything they’d had to deal with in the opening 45 minutes.

In what is likely to be his final match in blue and white, the former Nottingham Forest youngster opened his account for the season with a fine finish from the edge of the box after cutting inside onto his favoured left foot, accurately finding the bottom right-hand corner in the 61st minute.

This was a historic moment, too, with Appiah becoming the first ever English player to score for Malaga in the 119-year history of the club.

A fitting finale to a forgettable season

Minutes later, Argentinian forward Pablo Chavarría could easily have put the game to bed had he finished a good chance.

It then seemed as if Malaga had won themselves a penalty with the referee pointing to the spot only for the linesman to put his flag up for an offside in the build-up against Álex Calvo.

Then, the inevitable ending happened with Yáñez failing to deal with Vázquez’s free-kick and the ball presenting itself kindly to centre-back Juan Ibiza who accepted the gift and slotted into an empty net to earn Ibiza a point late in the day.

New sporting director watches on

The club’s new sporting director, Loren Juarros, watched on from the stands, seeing for himself the extent of the challenge that faces him this summer to get the club consistently winning games of football once again.

He must now decide who, if any, of the current squad he will convince to be part of the Malaga project going forward in the third tier.

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