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Juande receives his marching orders after his second yellow card. ÑITO SALAS
Malaga cruelly denied win by late VAR call in feisty clash with Levante

Malaga cruelly denied win by late VAR call in feisty clash with Levante

Both sides picked up red cards and a share of the points in the early weekend game which still leaves Pellicer's team adrift in the drop zone

Daryl Finch

MALAGA.

Friday, 24 March 2023, 11:09

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Malaga have now taken a point from promotion-chasing teams in back-to-back games after a 0-0 draw at home to Levante last Friday night.

Although it was goalless, it was an eventful game at a sold-out La Rosaleda stadium, with plenty of chances created at both ends, a crucial late VAR intervention and two red cards.

Malaga coach Sergio Pellicer stuck with the same shape that took a point away in Las Palmas last week, persevering with the back five and a semi-fluid midfield behind the single recognisable number nine - in this case Fran Sol once more.

However, they failed to get a grip on the game in the early stages, and Levante had the better chances. The first was an incredible effort from Joni Montiel from inside his own half, trying (and only narrowly failing) to catch keeper Rubén Yáñez off his line.

The second was much more conventional: Vicente Iborra missed a free header from a corner to let Malaga off the hook for some very slack marking.

Double substitution

The hosts looked much more determined in the second half and had greater presence in attack with the introductions of Rubén Castro and Pablo Chavarría in the 56th minute.

A minute later, Lago Junior, wearing the captain's armband again on the night, almost squeezed in the ball from an impossible angle, clipping the outside of the post.

Then came a moment of madness. Malaga centre back Juande, already on a yellow card, committed an unnecessary foul as the attacker was running towards the corner flag, leaving his side down to ten men once again.

The numerical disadvantage didn't last long, though. Levante's Jorge de Frutos received a straight red card after appearing to stand on Alberto Escassi's thigh at least twice in the same challenge.

This gave Malaga a boost and, suddenly, they seemed the side most likely to find the winner. And in the 85th minute, it appeared they had. A long ball over the top was volleyed goalward by Chavarría, only to be parried by Dani Cárdenas into the path of Rubén Castro who pounced on the rebound.

After a lengthy VAR review, though, Chavarría was found to have been marginally offside and Malaga ultimately had to settle for a draw.

While Sergio Pellicer's team seem to be showing greater resilience than under his predecessor Pepe Mel, the rate at which his side are picking up points is still unlikely to be enough in the battle against relegation to the third tier.

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