Malaga came into Saturday’s evening game (20 November) knowing that they had to win no matter what, as their poor away form has made it necessary for them to take advantage of their home ties.
La Rosaleda was rocking and fully supportive of the Blue and Whites, who also faced tough opponents in Las Palmas. The Canarians were in good form and in promotion places.
Both sides kept a well-balanced 4-4-2, with Genaro being the only missing player for the hosts as he picked up a suspension.
The first few minutes of the game were pretty hectic. Both teams had the same intention of pressing high and dominating possession, playing high up the pitch when they didn’t have the ball.
The chances were also shared equally, with Malaga putting in a couple of crosses that just didn’t quite connect with any of the intended players.
The visitors play was very focused on Jonathan Viera, who was dictating the game throughout the opening 45 minutes.
As the minutes wore on, Las Palmas were edging closer towards goal, with a shot by Loiodice going wide, minutes after Jesé’s cross had found no one.
By the 15th minute, it was clearly Las Palmas in charge. Viera often dropped back to the halfway line looking for the ball and playing wide when receiving it.
But Malaga weren’t totally out of it and still had their chances, with a play down the left ending in a booking for Las Palma’s Kirian. The ensuing free-kick was shot by Escassi, who tried to surprise the keeper but ended up sending his shot up high.
The clearest chance of the half so far went to Las Palmas, whose attackers danced beautifully around Malaga’s defenders to leave Jesé on his own to shoot wide.
Then on the half hour mark, just mere minutes later, Malaga scored the opening goal after a brilliant bit of skill from Paulino left Víctor Gómez with enough space to find Brandon inside the box, who in turn passed it across the face of the goal to allow Antoñín to slot home.
Las Palmas reacted well, but ultimately could not do enough to pull one back before the break.
The second half saw much of the same from both sides, but Loiodice’s second yellow five minutes into the second-half meant that Malaga now had a number advantage over their visitors.
Malaga took advantage of the space to play calmly, almost like Las Palmas were doing in the first half. The Viera threat was neutralised by Escassi and Ramón, as they caught on to the danger he could generate.
With 15 minutes to go, the game slowed down again. Las Palmas were suffering from the player disadvantage, but still hellbent on playing out from the back as it nothing had changed.
A couple of minutes later, Viera found himself in some space, crossed the ball back with Peybernes awkwardly heading it to goalie and Benito was quick to pounce on the mistake, smashing the ball home to bring things level.
La Rosaleda still roared the team on, knowing that they had the numerical advantage. Malaga bounced back immediately, with an incredible counter attack. Paulino found acres of space and passed the ball to a lonesome Kevin, who hit the post from five metres out.
The introduction of Sekou with ten minutes to go would prove to be key for Malaga. With just five minutes left, the hosts had a corner in which five players ran from outside the box, with Sekou smashing home the second of the night with a thundering header in the front post.
A well-practiced set-piece that put the Blue and Whites ahead yet again, giving the hosts all three points and going one step closer to promotion.