Dejected Malaga players after the final whistle. / MARIANO POZO

Victory snatched from Malaga at La Rosaleda

The Blue and Whites showed signs of improvement against a well-organised Cartagena side, who took a point at the very end with a spectacular overhead kick

SHAY CONAGHAN

Malaga still haven’t got back to winning ways after a well-fought but ultimately disappointing 1-1 draw with Cartagena at La Rosaleda. The Andalusians have picked up just two points since their last victory at the start of January but are showing signs of improvement.

Natxo González decided to not shake things up in the starting eleven, keeping the core players at the start but introducing Vadillo on the wing and replacing Roberto with Brandon in attack.

Malaga got the game off to an enthusiastic start, doing well to press Cartagena and even managing a shot within the first five minutes.

But the visitors picked up the pace and they did what so many teams have done in recent weeks against Malaga – hold possession with ease and without much response from the Andalusians, who could only chase Cartagena down.

After the two early VAR decisions, which saw a Malaga penalty denied and a Cartagena goal overruled, the game settled down. Both sides enjoyed their fair share of chances, though the Malaga players’ poor first touch did little to help their efforts in attack and Brandon even missed a big chance to put the hosts ahead before the break.

With no substitutes at half-time, Malaga came out strongly in the second-half. The Blue and Whites had a few chances in quick succession, but the Cartagena goalkeeper proved his worth with three fantastic saves to deny the opening goal.

But on the Andalusians’ fourth attempt, the opponent’s keeper was no match for a thundering Brandon header, who put his side ahead after connecting with a brilliant cross from a set-piece.

Malaga defended well for the remaining 35 minutes of the game. Cartagena came close to equalising on a few occasions, but La Rosaleda provided the Blue and Whites the energy to see out the rest of the game.

That was until visitors pulled one back in the dying minutes of the game thanks to an Okazaki overhead kick that put a sour taste in every fan’s mouth and denying Malaga their first win since the start of January.

Malaga will next travel to northern Spain to play relegation rivals Amorebieta, at 6.15pm on Sunday.