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TMalaga players celebrate Roberto's (centre) goal. Agencia Lof
La Rosaleda set for sell-out showdown as Malaga CF eye play-off final
Football

La Rosaleda set for sell-out showdown as Malaga CF eye play-off final

With home advantage and only requiring a draw, the Blue and Whites are confident ahead of this Saturday's crucial second leg

Daryl Finch

Malaga

Sunday, 2 June 2024, 20:34

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La Rosaleda stadium is expected to be a sell-out on Saturday with Malaga CF just one game away from the play-off final for promotion back to the second tier at the first time of asking.

A 2-2 draw in Vigo against Celta B in the first leg on Saturday means the return fixture is perfectly poised for the home side. As the higher-ranked team in the normal season, a draw after extra time will be enough for Malaga to progress. And with home advantage, the odds now seem stacked in Malaga's favour.

However, things could have been a whole let better for Sergio Pellicer's side. Having come back from a goal down to lead at Balaídos, Malaga conceded a last-gasp equaliser to Pablo Durán deep into stoppage time to ensure parity going into the second leg.

Early setback

In the opening exchanges, the visitors had most of the possession but it was Celta's reserve side who took advantage of the first real chance of the game. In the 15th minute, top scorer Alfon cut inside from the left, leaving David Larrubia for dead, before striking low to beat Alfonso Herrero at his near post.

There were plenty of chances in the first half for both teams, but it was Celta's Raúl Blanco that came closest to getting the second goal with his impressive strike from distance coming back out off the crossbar.

Equaliser

After the break, it was a different story and the visitors found the equaliser in controversial circumstances. With a Celta defender on the ground having been left in a heap earlier in the move, Malaga captain Genaro powered home a header at the near post once the ball was returned into the box by Manu Molina, the original corner taker.

However, after surviving a scare when Hugo Álvarez struck the post then drew a save from the keeper on the rebound, Malaga found themselves with a chance from 12 yards when Roberto was upended in his one-on-one with keeper Ruly.

The same man stood up and sent the keeper the wrong way with his penalty kick.

Late sting

Despite their lead, Malaga weren't entirely comfortable and the feeling was that Celta B, the division's top scorers, weren't quite done yet.

In the end, the sting came late, deep into stoppage time, as a through ball sent Pablo Durán into space where he poked the ball through the legs of the onrushing keeper.

In spite of the late setback, coach Pellicer said: "I feel optimistic [for the second leg] after seeing what happened during this game.

"I leave here feeling satisfied with what we showed."

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