First Division - Day 18

Racing Santander 0 - Málaga 1

Racing: Lemmens; Mellberg (Estevez 80'), Arzeno, Txema, Juanma;, Espina (Preciado 70'), Colsa; Morán (Pineda 63'), Vivar Dorado, Amavisca; Mazzoni. 4-2-3-1.
Málaga: Contreras; Rojas, Larrainzar, Roteta, Valcarce; Rufete, Movilla (Bravo 73'), De los Santos, Iznata (Zárate 75'); Dely Valdés, Canabal (Edgar 46'). 4-4-2.

Team changes: Racing: Txema, Juanma, Vivar Dorado for Tais, Sietes, Manjarín / Málaga: Iznata, Canabal for Agostinho, Darío Silva.

0-1. 11. Canabal. Took pass from Dely Valdés on left and poked ball under keeper.

An injury to referee Fernández Marín in the thirteenth minute was the talking point of this match, with the fourth official, a young second division B referee Rafael Romeo Moreno, taking charge for the rest of the 90 minutes. They say you are getting old when policemen start to look young, and maybe the same goes for referees, but to me he just looked a boy as he made his first hesitant steps onto the pitch. And within minutes he was embroiled in controversy as he first ruled that Contreras had stepped out of the area when he caught a high ball, then changed his mind after consulting with a linesman under pressure from the players. After that though he pulled himself together and mixed it with the best of them, producing seven yellow cards and sending off Racing's Txema a few minutes from the end for a second bookable offence, the defender's second red card of the season.

Racing came in to this match on a high after a 2-0 victory in the 'Copa del Rey' against Athletic Bilbao, although the good cup run had taken it's toll, Ismael joining Sietes, Manjarín and six more of the first team squad on the physio's busy roster. Manzano therefore called up all his available players plus B team keeper Borja, and still had to leave one place empty on the substitute's bench. Málaga's manager Joaquín Peiró was missing the suspended Darío Silva in attack, and gave 45 minutes each to Canabal and Edgar alongside Dely Váldés, both of whom have been complaining about the lack of opportunities at the club. Of the two it was the former who staked his claim, picking up a pass from Dely Valdés early in the game and running on to poke the ball through the legs of Lemmens for his second goal in three games. That was enough in the end to take the three points, although Racing did their best, spending most of the match trying to break down the coastal side's well organized defence.

New signing Mazzonni was Racing's most effective forward in the first half, hitting the post and then getting the ball in the net a bit later only to see it ruled out correctly for offside. Contreras was having one of his good days, saving from a hard shot by Morán in the first half and keeping out Amavisca a couple of times in the second. But gradually Racing ran out of steam, and even the introduction of three new players during the second half did nothing to improve matters. Racing stay in next to bottom spot, having lost an opportunity to rise up the table with all their close rivals losing. Málaga record their third victory in a row, albeit only their second of the season away from home, and they are now only a point away from the UEFA spots in seventh place. Peiró would surely have signed immediately if you had offered him that at the start of the season.