| Manuel Labor reports.....
|First Division - Day Twenty Seven|
Málaga 1 - Deportivo de La Coruña 0
Contreras; Rojas, Larrainzar, Fernando Sanz, Bravo, Valcarce; Movilla, Sandro,
Agostinho; Edgar, Darío Silva. 5-3-2.
Team changes: Málaga: Sandro, Agostinho for Iznata, De los Santos / Depor: Schurrer for Donato.
Leaders Deportivo lost a golden opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the first division after losing to a Málaga side fighting to keep their place in the top flight. Irureta only made one change from last week's league team, resting Donato in defence and bringing back Schurrer. Málaga were without several key players, with Catanha, Ruano and De los Santos suspended and Luque and Rufete injured. Sandro and Agostinho came in, and youngster Juanma was called up from the junior side to fill a spot on the bench. They were however able to convince the disciplinary committee that Mégia Dávila was wrong in sending off Darío Silva last week, and he lined up in attack alongside Edgar. Peiró was grateful that he played, as he got the only goal of the match in the third minute of the game after collecting Sandro's free kick on the far post. The home side were plagued with injuries in the first half, and even before kick off there were doubts about Rojas who appeared to pick up an injury in the pre-match warm up, although in the end he played the full 90 minutes. Three players were however forced to leave before half time, with Agostinho and Bravo both pulling muscles in the first 15 minutes and being replaced by Iznata and Roteta, and then Edgar picking up an injury just before half time, being substituted by the unsettled Musampa. Edgar missed a chance to extend the home team's lead in the first half, and Makaay headed over when he should have scored for the visitors. Around the hour mark Irureta brought on Pauleta and then Turu Flores for an injured Flavio and for Naybet, but it was Málaga who went closest to scoring, through Iznata, who shot over the bar. Referee Fernández Marín sent off Mauro Silva for a second yellow card five minutes from the end, and the Deportivo manager brought on Jaime for Makaay to cover his place in midfield. In the end the three points helped Málaga to rise to tenth place, a position they would be happy with at the end of the season. Deportivo fell to another away defeat after losing heavily to Arsenal midweek in the UEFA cup, and have only picked up one point in their last six league outings. Not really the stuff of champions, but then nobody is closing in on them at the moment. They now play Valencia at home before visiting Barcelona in a fortnight's time. Assuming they will be out of Europe after their return leg next Thursday, they can at least now concentrate on the league. It's going to get very interesting in the next few weeks.
Mallorca 1 - Zaragoza 1
Mallorca: Leo Franco;
Olaizola, Nadal, Siviero, Miguel Soler; Armando, Chichi Soler, Engonga,
Stankovic; Carlos, Diego Tristán. 4-4-2.
Team changes: Mallorca: Armando for Lauren / Zaragoza: Solana, Sundgren, Marcos Vales for Cuartero, Pablo, Juanele.
Zaragoza fought back with nine men to salvage a draw in this game, and could have snatched the three points in the last minute if Garitano had not hit the crossbar with a late penalty kick. Referee Rodriguez Santiago applied the rule book rigorously throughout this match, sending off three players and awarding two penalties, both to Zaragoza. In the fourth minute he showed the red card to Zaragoza's international keeper Juanmi for handling the ball outside of the area. Although there was no doubt that Juanmi had stopped Chichi Soler's shot with his hands a yard outside of the penalty box, Zaragoza manager Txetxu Rojo was furious that he showed the red rather than the yellow card. There were three or four players behind the ball at the time, although the referee's argument was that it was a goal chance and therefore merited the maximum penalty. Rojo was forced to put on reserve keeper Lainez in place of Marcos Vales, who had just won a place in the side ahead of Juanele. Mallorca took advantage of the man advantage, with Engonga sending Diego Tristán down the right wing to cross for Carlos, who beat Lainez with a first time shot. If Rojo saw 'rojo' before, he saw a much deeper shade this time, with a justifiable claim that Tristán started his run from an offside position. Just after half time the visitors were level however, with the referee awarding a penalty for a debatable foul by Nadal on Sundgren which Garitano converted. A good thing too for the visitors, as a few minutes later they were reduced to nine men after Aguado picked up a second yellow card for a push on Carlos. This was Aguado's 327th game for Zaragoza, equalling the club record set by Violeta some twenty-three years ago, and it was shame to be sent off at such a milestone. Rojo changed Aragón for Helguera, and Vázquez brought on Ibagaza and Eto'o for Olaizola and Chichi Soler in a more attacking line up. Lainez and his makeshift defence held their ground however, and the points were shared. Zaragoza lose some ground, with Alavés and Barcelona overtaking them, although they are still fourth and do not have any cup competitions to distract them in the next few weeks. Mallorca are still eighth, but a four point gap has now opened up between them and the UEFA spots. This was one they needed to win.