MADRID: Malaga moved clear in fourth place in La Liga on Saturday with a 2-0 win over 10-man Sevilla who were left to rue a first half of wasted chances.
It was Malaga’s first away win since the beginning of September and it appeared far from likely as Sevilla dominated the first 45 minutes but failed to make the most of a hatful of opportunities with Alvaro Negredo the most guilty.
Martin Demichelis headed Malaga into the lead after 49 minutes and then Eliseu Pereira sealed the win with a penalty which had also seen the dismissal of defender Federico Fazio for a foul on Joaquin Sanchez.
Malaga are now three points ahead of fifth-placed Betis who face Celta Vigo on Monday.
“To win in Sevilla’s stadium is worth double and we have maintained our high standards,” said Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini.
“They let us off with three or four chances at the start of the game but in the second half we had control, we created chances and we won.
“Sevilla are a rivals for a Champions League place. We gave them too much space and we didn’t defend well although we improved later.
“We have qualified for the next round in two competitions (the King’s Cup and the Champions League) and after virtually every match we have been among the European places in the league so that speaks for itself.” The pressure is now on Sevilla coach Michel Gonzalez after a second successive home defeat.
“I am not worried about my job and I hope the situation improves not for me but for the club,” he said.
Sevilla were without Hedwiges Maduro as well as long-term injury victim Piotr Trochowski in midfield, but still took the game to Malaga and Negredo should have given them the lead within three minutes.
He rounded the keeper but hit the post with his weaker right foot with the goal gaping.
Ivan Rakitic was dictating play from the middle and the Malaga defence was stretched as another chance went begging with Diego Perotti hitting the side netting.
Sevilla were forcing a high tempo but they were nearly caught out at the other end when Roque Santa Cruz, surprisingly playing ahead of Javier Saviola, headed just past the post with still less than quarter of an hour played.
Malaga keeper Willy Caballero came to the rescue as he parried a Negredo shot from point-blank range and the follow-up from Jesus Navas was blocked by Jesus Gamez. Malaga were struggling to get the ball off Sevilla with Isco Alcarcon and Joaquin isolated.
After the break, though, Malaga came out with more attacking intent and quickly went ahead through Demichelis who headed in a Joaquin corner from the far post.