Monday, March 16, 2009

Malaga 2 Sevilla 2

This was always going to be a tough game for Malaga. Sevilla, despite the summer departures of Poulsen, Keita and the extraordinary Dani Alves, still have a lot of quality and had Malaga on the ropes from the first whistle on Sunday. Malaga had to do without both Duda and Lolo, who are on loan from Sevilla, as there is a clause in the loan deal which prevents them for lining out against their employers. Duda has been excellent this season and his loss was felt by the home team on Sunday. His accurate passing over longer distances has enabled Malaga to release their speedy forwards quickly without having to elaborate too much in midfield. Without this outlet on Sunday, Malaga struggled against a technically adept Sevilla in the centre of the field and were attacked with impunity. Albert Luque, who has demonstrated a return to form in recent weeks was nursing a knock and started on the bench. It was looking grim for the home side until mild-mannered Salva Ballesta scored against the run of play in the 18th minute. Malaga doubled their lead 15 minutes before the break with another goal from Salva. Before Salva's first, Sevilla had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. The referee was going to give the goal but was dissuaded by the linesman's flag. The linesman, however, must have been on the sauce the night before as the "goal", as television replays proved, was clearly onside. The referee acted correctly in my opinion because his assistant did have a better view. Anyway, Sevilla for all their dominance went in at half-time 2-0 down, football, eh?

Sevilla continued to dominate in the second half. I thought Tapia would've learned something from the first period and shored up the gaping channel from the centre circle to the edge of Malaga's box from where Sevilla's best work was done, but no: things remained the same and Sevilla created chance after chance as Malaga retreated. The inevitable goals came and Sevilla will be disappointed that they didn't take the three points.

The atmosphere in La Roselada was fantastic with both sets of supporters in great song on a fine sunny evening. Next up for Malaga is a tricky away fixture against the mighty Barcelona on Saturday. After a little slump in form Barcelona have rediscovered their touch and have looked the part in recent games. Malaga will have Duda and Lolo back but will need to perform a lot better than on Sunday to have any hope of getting a result. Unfortunately I won't be able to make that one, so I'll watch it on the box with a few Staropramen. I think the missus is going out too. Result!

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