Sunday, 14 January 2024, 17:00
The end of the first half of the league season couldn't have gone much worse for Malaga CF, as they threw away a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 in Ceuta on Sunday afternoon.
Following the disappointing outing against Intercity a week earlier in which Dani Lorenzo's late equaliser in Orihuela provided a temporary distraction, the side's deficiencies were yet again in evidence in North Africa as any aspirations of automatic promotion seemed to fade away.
Ceuta, who had only scored five goals at home prior to this match, exposed Malaga's vulnerabilities, dominating the first half. Devoid of organised pressure and unable to match Ceuta's intensity, the Blue and Whites struggled again in the opening 45.
However, it wasn't until five minutes from the break that the hosts took the lead after a quick break left Cedric Teguia in a one-on-one with Nelson Monte. The forward outskilled the centre-back before tucking the ball beyond the outstretched foot of Alfonso Herrero.
The visitors were then let off the hook moments later when Sofiane's goal was chalked off for offside.
In response to a dire first half, Malaga coach Sergio Pellicer made three changes, introducing Juanpe, Manu Molina and Dioni to the mix - and it seemed to work.
Dioni's spectacular strike from the edge of the box, in off the crossbar, quickly levelled the scores.
Then, with 56 minutes on the clock, Malaga went ahead through Dani Lorenzo's excellent finish having cut in from the left.
However, Ceuta's response was swift: and Sofiane wasn't to be denied. Just ten minutes later, the forward swept home a cross from the left to swing the game back in his side's favour.
The Frenchman then made it a quickfire double as he was first on the scene to nod the ball over the line after an uncharacteristic error from Herrero who had misjudged Ahmed's cross from the right.
With 20 minutes still to play, the visitors pushed for the equaliser and Dioni was first denied a goal by an excellent double save from Pedro López, then an assist by the referee who whistled for a climb on the defender as he headed the ball back across the face of goal for Juan Hernández to convert.
All in all, it was another bad day at the office for the Blue and Whites.
With this result, Malaga now sit in fourth place and trail leaders Castellón by ten points. Adding to the pressure, Ibiza are now also eight points ahead.
The best-case scenario for the team now is qualification for the play-offs from which only two out of eight teams will secure promotion.
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