Barcelona loom after surprise loss

MALAGA go into Sunday’s clash with La Liga leaders Barcelona at a La Rosaleda (kick-off 9pm) having gone down to a surprising 1-0 defeat at bottom club Deportivo La Coruna.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men were a shadow of the side that beat Real Madrid before the Christmas break and were on the back foot right from the start at Riazor, goalkeeper Willy Caballero having to turn aside a Bruno Gama effort after just seven minutes.

Gama wasted another opening shortly afterwards before the Costa del Sol outfit had a further let-off on the half-hour mark, Portuguese winger Pizzi’s free-kick coming back off a post with Caballero well beaten.

Joaquin then had the opportunity to give Malaga an undeserved lead going into the break when he outstripped the Depor defence, but his effort went straight into the body of onrushing ‘keeper Daniel Aranzubia.

After the restart the Galicians continued where they had left off as Riki somehow contrived to shoot wide with the goal at his mercy.  However, on 57 minutes the hosts finally got the goal their pressure deserved, Pizzi latching onto a mis-hit pass from right-back Jesus Gamez and waltzing past Martin Demichelis before firing a powerful shot past Caballero.  The visitors were offering little in the way of ambition, with a Roque Santa Cruz header that flashed just wide the closest they came to grabbing an equaliser, and despite the introduction of Javier Saviola and Diego Buonanotte the home side comfortably held on to record just their third win of the season.

Boss Pellegrini was understandably nonplussed about his team’s disappointing display and was particularly upset at the opening 45 minutes.  “We put in a performance where the opposition were clearly better than us in the first half, which we gifted to them.  In the second half we improved but the goal was a schoolboy error on our part,” said the Chilean.

“Even so, Depor did not surprise me as they play creative football and have some good players. They had the skill and fortune to get the winning goal and we did not,” he added.

 

By Dave Redshaw

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