Málaga's hopes dented by Betis
Málaga’s hopes of an automatic Champions League spot were dented when they went down 2-0 to Real Betis in the Andalusian derby at La Rosaleda.
Quite how Manuel Pellegrini’s team contrived to lose this game is uncertain, with goalkeeper Carlos Kameni, in for the injured Willy Caballero, reduced to a virtual spectator for the whole of the 90 minutes, but it was Pepe Mel’s men who walked off with all three points to give Los Béticos’ survival chances a shot in the arm.
The hosts took the game to Betis right from the start and created a succession of chances, the best of them falling to striker Salomón Rondón who could only head straight at goalkeeper Fabricio. Despite their domination Málaga fell for a sucker punch six minutes before the break, with what was Betis’ first foray into the opposition, half when Rubén Castro got his head on a José Dorado free kick to steer the ball past Kameni, who should have done much better.
Things got even worse for the home side on the stroke of half-time when Dorado took advantage of a scramble in the Málaga box to double Betis’ advantage and give his side an unlikely two-goal lead.
Pellegrini brought on Duda after the break in a bid to get his side back into the game and the Portuguese almost got on the scoresheet when he brought a superb save out of Fabricio. But it was clearly not going to be Málaga’s night as a string of opportunities were wasted with Rondón, Weligton, Cazorla, Seba Fernández, Buonanotte and substitute Ruud van Nistelrooy all failing to hit the target as Los Blanquiazules became increasingly frustrated.
Rondón’s glaring miss from a header late on summed things up for the Costa del Sol side, who will now have to pick themselves up for the home game with Racing Santander next week.
“The ball just did not want to go in,” said Pellegrini afterwards. “But nothing has changed and we are still fourth. We play Racing next week and we need to try and take the three points.”
To make sure you don't miss any of A Different League's Spanish coverage this season, follow the La Liga dedicated Twitter feed: @differentliga