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A draw worth 40 points (1-1)

Málaga and Espanyol drew at La Rosaleda in the 31st LaLiga game of the season. Diop put the Catalan side in front, whilst a penalty from Cop levelled out the scoreboard, giving Málaga 40 points.

The match kicked off with a certain laxity from both sides, and the same starting-11 for Javi Gracia that defeated Betis two weeks ago in Sevilla.  Nothing major happened until minute 11’, and it went in the visitors’ favour.  A corner by Asensio allowed Diop to propel over the Malaguista defence to score the 0-1 with a header.  Espanyol grew in confidence after the initial goal against an uncomfortable Málaga during the first 15 minutes of play.

As the match advanced, things didn’t get much better at the crowded Martiricos ground.  Charles was shown the yellow card (24’) after a spat with Diop, meaning he’ll miss out on the next League clash in Granada due to an accumulation of cards.  Little by little Málaga gained dominance and increased possession, trying to cause damage down the centre of the always well-positioned rival defence.

The outlook of the match didn’t change much for the remainder of the first half of play, which didn’t see a great deal of presence in either area, with all the focus in midfield.  This was until Juanpi, very active between the lines with his electricity on the pitch, was the subject of a penalty just before half-time, that was converted by Duje Cop (1-1, 44’).  This is the fourth LaLiga goal for the Croatian striker, giving a much-needed morale boost for Gracia’s men ahead of the second half.

Fede Ricca joined the match in the second half, in place of Miguel Torres, making his debut this season in front of the home fans.  His compatriot, Chory Castro tried his luck in minute 50’ with a right footer that narrowly missed the target. Galca also made some changes to the rival line-up, bringing on former Blue and Whites’ striker, Caicedo in place of Gerard Moreno in minute 57’ of play.

The rhythm of the match wasn’t excessively high reaching the latter part of the second half, as both sides focused on tactics and strong defending on the attacks.  In order to gain more speed and explosiveness, Gracia brought on Atsu to replace Juanpi in minute 67’.  Soon after, Recio culminated a counter-attack with a low shot at goal, that was well saved by Pau López (70’).  A near miss for Charles in minute 73’ following a pass from Ricca, and a chance for Atsu in minute 75’ was stopped again by Pau.

Under-21s international with Spain, Pablo Fornals came on in place of Cop (82’) to give more focus to the wide area which was well covered by Espanyol.  Pau López won a one-on-one with Charles just before the 90th minute.  This was the last chance for Málaga, who were determined for more, but couldn’t get past a draw against a well-organised opponent at La Rosaleda.  Gracia’s men now have 40 points and remain in the medium-high part of the table.