Jornada 5: Malaga vs. Eibar
Sunday 23 September 2008 and Malaga have an 18:00h kick off in 28C temperatures in the live televised match against newly promoted Eibar.
Eibar have done comparatively well so far in this division, beating relegated teams Celta Vigo and Nástic and conceding only two goals (one a penalty) in the opening four games. They play a deep defensive game, relying on swift counterattacks and will be a difficult nut for Malaga to crack.
Malaga welcome the return of talisman striker Salva after he recovered from his knee injury but he has to be content with a seat on the bench as Muniz continues to play an unchanged starting line-up to the two previous games in which his team has netted seven times.
Malaga (4-1-3-2): Goitia; Jesus Gamez, Rosario, Weligton and Rossato; Carpintero; Paulo Jorge, Hidalgo and Calleja; Baha and Peragon.
Eibar, who normally play in red and blue stripes, similar to Barcelona, confuse me with their change strip of the green and white hoops of Celtic! They even have a right winger with ginger hair (Txiki) who reminds me of Jimmy Johnstone!
It's Eibar who start off the brightest, perhaps looking for an early goal to quieten the 15, 205 crowd (Malaga's biggest home game so far this season). In the first minute, Weligton concedes a free kick in a dangerous position, 30 yards out. Baha is back defending and heads clear.
But Eibar keep pressing and win the first corner of the game in 3', conceded by Weligton. Hidalgo is first to the ball to clear.
In the 4' Baha goes close when he picks up a loose ball in midfield and runs towards the goal. His strong shot is well saved by ex-Atletico Madrid keeper Cuellar, low at the post.
In 12' Jesus Gamez is the first booking for tugging the shirt of Lombrana when the winger was free on the centre line with only Goitia between him and the goal.
It's end to end stuff in these opening minutes and Calleja overhits his pass to Baha in 15' which allows Cuellar to rush out and gather first.
In 20' Txiki (Jimmy Johnstone) is proving a handful for Rossato down Eibar's right. He is strong and powerful but after getting in a good position, his shot sails over the bar.
In 22' Jesus Gamez gets to the bye-line to cross to the leaping Peragon, but Cuellar is again first to the ball.
In 23' Baha tries a diving header from a pass from Paulo Jorge but can't reach the ball and the half chance is gone.
In 25' Eibar almost score when Txiki's header beats Goitia but Weligton manages to scramble the ball clear. Paulo Jorge is fouled by Insa as he collects the ball and the Eibar midfielder is booked.
In 26' Malaga win their first corner. Paulo Jorge, who seems to have a roving commission again, takes the kick but he doesn't pass the first defender.
In 30' an excellent long throw from Jesus Gamez reaches the centre of the six yard box, but there are no takers.
In 32' Rosario, who is commanding in defence, again heads clear in a crowded box after another excellent run down the wing by Txiki.
Malaga are living dangerously, defending quite deep and without any recognisable midfield play. Hidalgo has been very quiet and the two wingers, Paulo Jorge and Calleja ineffective. This means that the defence is being overworked and their tendency is to boot the ball long up to the forwards, missing out midfield. The result is that possession is invariably given away and the defence put back under pressure again. This has been a consistent factor in each of Malaga's first half performances so far this season.
In 37' the dangerous Txiki sends in a glorious cross across the six yard line. The ball passes five Malaga players, including Goitia, all despairingly trying to get a touch.
Fortunately, no Eibar forward was able to get the touch which would almost certainly have produced a goal.
In 40' Brazilian full back Rossato gets forward for the first time, after being pegged back by Txiki up till this point. Rossato drives the ball hard low across the penalty area. Baha gets to it but lifts the ball over the bar.
In 44' Del Olmo is booked for barging into Peragon.
Half time Malaga 0 Eibar 0
A poor first half from Malaga, with the midfield posted missing, but they have managed to keep the score at 0-0 against an Eibar side who look very sound in defence and showing no respect for their hosts.
Muniz unsurprisingly makes two changes at the start of the second half. Salva and Cheli come on for Peragon and Paulo Jorge respectively. Paulo Jorge, on loan from Benfica, has been very disappointing and the more experienced Cheli will at least stay on the right touchline and provide some service to the strikers.
Eibar almost take the lead in the first minute of the second half, with Malaga players pausing expecting a free kick to be awarded after Carpintero goes down like a sack o' tatties. There is no whistle and burly striker Goiria runs through to strike a shot which beats Goitia but comes off the crossbar.
In 48' Cheli shows what good wing play can do with good running down the right, but twice in succession his crosses are too near the keeper.
The substitutions have galvanised Malaga, who have upped the tempo and are taking the game to Eibar.
In 50' Calleja's cross from the left wing is headed behind for a corner, which is then punched clear under pressure from Salva by Cuellar.
Then in 51' Jesus Gamez and Cheli combine down the right, allowing the full back to reach the bye-line to cross for Salva to head just over.
In 52' Salva, who has made an impact since he came on, slips a sweet pass between the two centre backs for Calleja to run onto, but the wing man is offside.
Aware of the impact of Salva, Eibar replace midfielder Insa for giant centre back Medina, to try and stifle the striker. Eibar are now playing with three centre backs and two full backs across the back, almost declaring that 0-0 would do them.
In 57' Calleja runs down the left wing. He has three men around him, so it's not looking good, but somehow he manages to get his cross into BAHA who is waiting at the near post. With a tight angle and under pressure from Medina, the Moroccan nevertheless manages to blast the ball past Cuellar at his near post for a wonder goal! GOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!!! What a goal! It was no more than a half chance, but Baha has shown that he is very capable to scoring goals out of nothing.
Malaga 1 Eibar 0
In 67' centre back and captain Martino is substituted by Eibar for striker Yague as Eibar try to retrieve something from the game.
In 70' Salva and Calleja combine well down the left, but the winger runs out of puff and Cuellar can rush out to clear the danger.
The game gets bogged down in midfield as Malaga ease their foot off the gas, seemingly happy to defend their one goal lead, although in truth, Eibar have not really shown themselves as capable of finishing off their counterattacks.
In 75' Eliseu comes on for the tired Calleja on the left wing.
In 78' Eibar take off defender Alana for another attacker in Medina and go 3-4-3.
In 80' Cheli is booked for a tackle from behind.
In 81' after a confrontation with the fourth official on the touchline, Eibar's manager, Javier "Manix" Mandiola, is sent to the stands by the referee.
In 82' Cheli puts Salva through, but the big striker miss kicks.
In 85' Salva returns the favour, but Cheli loses the angle and his shot goes wide.
In 86' Eibar almost equalise when Weligton slips allowing Goiria through. The big No.9's shot goes just over.
In 89' Hidalgo caps a poor display by his standards with a booking for barging Goiria.
In 90' striker Medina is booked for a foul on Rossato.
In 91' Salva does well to get the ball across goal after beating two men tight at the corner flag. His cross is met by Baha who shoots just over.
Full time Malaga 1 Eibar 0
So Malaga maintain their 100% record after five games and remain on top of the table. It was a far from convincing display, but they still managed to overcome a difficult team to break down with another wonder goal.
Next week, Malaga are away to Andalucian rivals and bogey team, Poli Ejido, who were thrashed 4-1 this weekend. Never fear, Your Malaga CF Correspondent will be there!
Sporting de Gijón 11
R. Ferrol 10
R. Sociedad 9
Sevilla At. 8
Poli Ejido 3
Las Palmas 1