Malaga vs. Osasuna
Yes, another match day at La Roseleda, where today's visitors were Club Atletico Osasuna, from the town of the same name in the north of Spain. This little club has had a very good start to this season, having already beaten Real Madrid in La Liga and boasting the top scorer in Milosevic, the former Celta Vigo and Aston Villa striker, who has netted 5 times in the opening 5 games. Before the kick off, they were lying in fifth place on 10 points, with Malaga sitting in 9th with 7 points, after succumbing to a defeat last week away 1-0 to Espanyol, themselves sitting proudly third after 5 games behind Valencia and Barcelona.
Malaga were keen to return to winning ways at home and a repeat of their performance at their last home game (against Numancia) was what was desired by the Malaga faithful. Against Espanyol, Luque got the shout for left wing before Duda, who dropped to the bench. However, the Portuguese maestro returned to the starting line-up today, in what is becoming the recognised first choice eleven, under Manzano.
Malaga: (4-1-3-2) Calatayud, Gerardo, Fernando Sanz, Juanito, Valcarce, Michel Angel, Edgar, Leko, Duda, Amoroso and Wanchope.
Osasuna: (4-2-3-1) Sanzol, Exposito, Cruchega, Josetxo, Corrales, Punal, Garcia, Ortiz, Aloisi, Moha and Milosevic.
It was a 17:00h kick off, but the sun was still very strong and we sat down in a sweltering 28C heat. The opening exchanges produced no goalmouth action, as both teams set out their stall for the evening. Malaga tried to get some passing moves going but were frustrated by some excellent closing down employed by the visitors and it wasn't until the 8th minute that we saw a shot on goal, with Amoroso shooting just over after connecting with a Valcarce by line cross from the touchline after a neat one-two between the full back and Duda.
In 19 minutes Wanchope broke through the middle and was brought down just outside the box close to the touchline. There were howls of the Spanish equivalent of "last man, send him off", but the referee simply awarded a free kick. Duda floated the kick into the crowded penalty box (throughout the game, both defending teams had all eleven players defending inside their own penalty boxes for corners and suchlike free kicks). There seemed to be some pushing going on and here were screams of "penalty, penalty" from behind the goals, but the referee remarkably asked for the free kick to be taken again instead. One of many baffling decisions made during the game. The ball broke to Gerardo lurking just outside the D, but he characteristically blasted his effort well over.
Two minutes later, Malaga again had a impressive attack with a strong run by Edgar down the right wing. His perfect cross found Wanchope in the clear, but the lanky Costa Rican had strayed offside.
In the 23rd minute, with Malaga keeping up the pressure, Leko received a ball won by Michel Angel in the centre circle. Leko lofted the ball over the static Osasuna back four to AMOROSO, whose run was perfectly timed and he slid the ball past the advancing Sanzol into the net at the far post.
As happens, Osasuna staged a fight back and won a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the box. Anchor man Garcia swerved the kick over the wall and Calatayud had his first touch of the game when he managed to get his fingertips to the net bound ball and put it over the bar. From the resultant corner kick by Moha, a tricky and hard working little winger, the ball bounced around the Malaga area, with several attempts failing to clear the danger. Wanchope eventually became the defensive hero by dribbling the ball out past three players where the previous hoofing out of the area had failed.
Half time 1-0
Osasuna came out strongly and seconds after the restart and Milsoevic had Calatayud scrambling across his goal to again deny the big striker. There was a clash between Wanchope and Garcia on the centre line and the referee awarded in the Costa Rican's favour. However, play was stopped whilst the nearside assistant advised the referee of some dastardly goings-on on the touchline and the result was that Osasuna's Mexican manager, Aguirre, was sent off to sit the rest of the game out from the stand.
Osasuna were not out of it and in their best period of the match Moha was always causing trouble with his running, trickery and incisive passing. One such move down the left wing ended when Moha went past two defenders and sent in a strong cross for Aloisi to head straight to Calatyud.
One goal was not looking enough as time and again only excellent interventions from the Malaga defenders stopped dangerous Osasuna attacks. In the 61st minute, WANCHOPE answered our prayers with a superb solo goal. He won possession in a strongly contested tussle with Garcia, before turning towards goal and making his advance past three other despairing tackles before slotting home from 12 yards. Brilliant!
The ground resounded to Chope, Chope (pronounced choppy) as our new hero delivered the goods at an important time in the game. El Chope is such a hero back in Costa Rica that now all Malaga games are beamed live back to the small Central American country each week.
On 65 minutes, Malaga scored what seemed to be the clincher. Fernando Sanz intercepted a cross intended for Milosevic (as he had been doing with Juanito all game) in his own half. He ran forward six yards and released Duda wide on the left wing. He took two touches before sending an inch perfect cross which Amoroso finished with a resounding volley past the helpless Sanzol. We were up on our feet for another incredible goal. The huge electronic scoreboard was going daft and strange music came belting out the speakers. But Amoroso was adjudged to be offside and the goal was cancelled. This decision resulted in the white hankies being brought out by the crowd who were chanting "fuera, fuera" (go away, get off) to the referee.
However Osasuna did not give up and Milosevic again came close going wide in 70 minutes and in a better chance in 85 minutes when he was just about to pull the trigger inside the six yard box, when Valcarce stole the ball off his toes and cleared to safety.
In the 90th minute, Calatayud came out to two fist the ball to safety on a one on one with Milosevic with the big striker receiving both fists to the side of his face. He was not happy about this and was threatening to return the favour to the giant goalkeeper. Juanito intervened and separated the two protagonists. Meanwhile the referee missed all this as he was attending to a substitution on the touchline. When he came back onto the field he promptly booked both Milosevic and Juanito! Juanito almost had the last laugh as he saw Sanzol off his line and attempted an outrageous shot from half way over the stranded keeper's head. Sanzol was however able to scramble backwards and make a save.
Full time 2-0.
This result and a number of others today has seen Malaga jump to fourth place in La Liga behind Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla. Real Madrid suffered another home defeat tonight against Deportivo who lie in 10th and 11th places respectively. Next week is an international weekend so games will be played. The following week is the away match up in Bilboa against Athletic (in 15th place) with the next home match three weeks away on the 24th October against one of Spain's big guns, Deportivo. Your Malaga CF Correspondent will be there.