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Deportivo La Coruña
29 April 2012
• Estadio La Rosaleda, Málaga
Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
• Attendance: 22000
Ignacio Camacho 27'
Malaga, then, reaffirm their Champions League aspirations but face a difficult final three games including away trips to Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Meanwhile, Valencia will be hoping that they can return to winning ways against Osasuna and Villarreal as they look to secure a third consecutive season amongst Europe's elite. Join us soon for the unveiling of La Liga's final few matches. Ta ta.
90' + 5'
And there it is, the full time whistle. It's a win that helps Malaga climb back above Levante in the hunt for Champions League football but because of their superior head-to-head Valencia hang onto third spot.
90' + 4'
It's Valencia with the games last meaningful attack sequence here, looking to make me eat my words perhaps, but despite their urgency which has been lacking all game they are unable to work an opening as Malaga hack clear.
90' + 3'
Tempers are coming to the boil in La Rosaleda and the referee maybe best served to bring an end to this one, especially as Valencia look toothless in attack, but Malaga are allowed another foray forward which Rami deals with, putting the ball out for a thrown.
90' + 2'
SUPERB SAVE!?!!!!?! Guaita does brilliantly to tip Van Nistelrooy's header over the bar denying the Dutchman a late goal.
And moments later Cazorla finds room inside the Valencia area after a neat through ball but Rami does well to read it and gets across to block the shot. I suppose you could call that late drama?
Yellow Card Jordi Alba
Malaga want a foul, everyone in the stadium does besides Cazorla. The ball breaks to the Spaniard who touches the ball a yard ahead of him before driving a shot towards goal which hammers off the underside of the crossbar and away to safety.
Malaga look to find that elusive second as they whip in a free kick but Topal does well to head behind for a corner kick, the home side are going to come again though but Valencia do manage to clear on the second time of asking.
You couldn't say that Malaga are holding on as such but they are perhaps deeper than they have been all game when Valencia are in possession. Disappointed by the amount of negativity that Pellegrini has showed here.
Unai Emery's goes positive with his substitutes, possibly sensing a dramatic equaliser as the game enters its final five minutes.
Deep cross finds Van Nistelrroy whose first time cross back across goal nearly gifts Isco a tap in but Guaita reacts brilliantly to intercept the pass.
It's quiet surprising that following Valencia being reduced to 10-men that Malaga haven't looked to overturn Los Che's superior head-to-head record.
Consecutive corners for Malaga as they look to force a second and it nearly comes only for Valencia to desperately clear, the match is beginning to saunter to the full-time whistle.
Quick end to that attack however as Van Nistelrooy is adjudged offside by the assistant referee.
Good work from Valencia who do well in the final third but Malaga managed to crowd Aduriz out without a clear sight of goal and the hosts will bring the ball forward.
Poor quality from Demichelis who takes a swipe at the ball gifting possession back to Valencia.
Gamaz shows his lightening quick pace to add an extra dimension to Malaga's attack but his low cross is aimed toward three Valencia players who eventually manage to clear.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy
He gets to his feet and has an almighty red nose...cue the immediate humming. Replays show a coming together with Demichelis but it did look like the defender couldn't do much about it, nothing in the challenge there.
Barragan is down in his own area clutching his area, and appearing to be breathing quiet heavily. Looks like he has takes a major knock here.
Mathieu gets a lucky break as his attempted one-two with Piatti comes off but his pull-back is expertly dealt with by Demichelis.
Suddenly Kameni is tested, Aduriz - a substitute for Soldado - touches the ball into the path of Tino Costa who drives a low shot towards goal and despite it going a foot or so wide of the target Kameni wants to make sure and touches the ball behind. Lucky form him, nothing comes of the corner.
Sportsmanship at its finest, Valencia giving the ball straight back to Malaga.
Maresca takes a hit but Malaga retain possession and the home side continue their attack, they work the ball to the wing before finally touching it out with Maresca still grounded. It was quite a tumble in all fairness.
Aritz Aduriz Zubeldia
The ball just keeps coming back toward Valencia's goal at the moment as they are unable to get out of their own half. They'll be given a breather here, however, Rondon touches the ball too far ahead and Valencia will have the goal kick.
Yellow Card Tino Costa
Isco is afforded too much space, and furthermore he is invited closer to goal inviting him to shoot. He does exactly that, but drags it wide of the target, can't let him have the much room again can Valencia.
Mathieu does well at the back cushioning his header back to Guaita who comes out to meet it. Los Che are going to have to be very discipline in the closing stages of this one if they are going to maintain their advantage over Malaga.
Yellow/Red Sofiane Feghouli
Feghouli is off!?! It's a poor challenge from the Frenchman as he goes up with Eliseu for a high, dropping ball but he leans with his elbow catching the defender with his elbow. Just got that much harder for Valencia.
Soldado cuts a frustrated figure on the far side as he looks to get an attack going not once, not twice but three times but Malaga's defence remains solid and eventually the striker commits a foul allowing the hosts to clear their lines.
RAMI! The delivery is spot on and the center back has a free header six yards out but he connects with it on his way down and cannot direct his effort on target. Best chance for the visitors so far was that.
It's the same fabric of the first half, chances at a premium and neither side truly finding a decent pace. There is a stop-start feel to the game as well, with the referee quick on the whistle, this time Valencia are award the set piece.
The hosts have another free kick, but Guaita is quickly off his line to come and collect and looks to get Valencia on their way but the ball quickly changes hands..figuratively speaking...as Malaga move forward again.
All Malaga at the moment. First Joaquin draws a decent save from Valencia's stopper, and it seems immediately after Rondon flashes a shot wide. Only one team in this at the moment.
Rondon does well to win a free kick some 35-yards from goal, dead centere, which has Cazorla looking. He opts to float one in rather than going for goal and Guaita does well to take it in the air.
Bit of pressure here from Valencia who have been camped in Malaga's half but it comes to an end when Tino Costa gets his delivery all wrong, in fact in lands on top of the net...but it wasn't one of those testers for Kameni, it was always going over.
Great, great shame. Rondon is found by an absolute beaut of a pass from the foot of Maresca and when the striker looks to shift the ball onto Eliseu the defender is easily across and draws the foul.
Los Che look a bit flat up top, and Demichelis and Co. are easily dominating that area of the field. Have seen very little of Jordi Alba thus far.
Yellow Card Isco
CAZORLA! Wonderful movement as the lil' man darts forward, beating the offside trap and his found with a delicate through ball but the angle is too tight and Guatia has his near post covered managing to push the ball behind for a corner.
Malaga get us underway and they shift the ball forward with a long, high ball but it comes straight back and they can have another go. This time it goes too high, and too long and out for a Valencia throw.
Refueling has commenced, cheese and crackers - is there anything better? Getting close to the second half as the players emerge from the tunnel ready for the second half. Goals, please with a side of drama.
@dquintonnavarro, Tweet your thoughts, if you were Emery or Pellegrini what would you be saying during the 15 minute break?
In a way it has been an intriguing first half, as both sides have tried to work the other out. The head-to-head could become a factor, and with Valencia having won the reverse fixture 2-0 we could be in for some goals. Here's hoping.
The remainder of the half is played out in mediocrity as much of the play before it was, and the referee brings an end to the opening 45 minutes with Malaga one up thanks to Camacho's first league goal of the season.
Yellow Card Martín Demichelis
Demichelis does excellently with a slide tackle after los Che broke quickly, although he gave away a corner as the result. But from the corner Malaga launch a counter of their own with Cazorla, Joaquin and Rondon all involved ending with Guiata saving well down low to his right. Best bit of football so far there.
Feghouli is the man of the moment, twice. The first time earns him a booking as he reacts to the referee's decision to award a free kick by smashing the ball high into sky. The second tome is for an excellent challenge to deny Cazorla a shooting opportunity. Best, and the worst.
Yellow Card Sofiane Feghouli
Valencia are looking to dictate the pace of the match here, working their way into the match as they keep the ball between them but sometimes directness works and Guaita's long ball gets an attack going but Malaga are defensively sound denying los Che any space in the final third.
Weligton is across to tidy up clearing the ball for a throw in and the Malaga captain does brilliantly to read Valencia's play to come across to meet the throw in first before launching the ball up-field.
Feghouli opts to play the ball out wide to Barragan who looks to get a first time cross into the danger zone but Eliseu does well to block the delivery, and even better to prevent a corner kick.
Two huge interceptions, the first from Valencia's Barragan gave his side the opportunity to launch a counter, the second was from Eliseu who - whilst back tracking - cut out a through ball which would have put Soldado through.
The goal has given the home side confidence and they come forward again, this time Isco finds from on the angle of the penalty area and lashes an effort goal ward but it goes over the bar. Close though.
Temperature rises in La Rosaleda as Eliseu gets a slight push in the back resulting in the referee calling across the guilty Rami and captain Soldado for a talking to. I'd suspect if he does it again he'll be in the book.
The game has opened up here, and both goalkeepers have had to be alert to through balls as both sides go in search of that second goal.
That goal was definitely needed, and Valencia look to respond immediately with Soldado playing on the shoulder opposed to dropping deep as he had been doing earlier on but the Spain international just strayed marginally offside as he looked to get on the end of Alba's low cross.
Assist Jesús Gámez
GOAL!?! GOAL!?! CAMACHO SCORES HIS FIRST LEAGUE GOAL! The midfielder manages to steal into the penalty area between the defenders and manages to divert Gamez's cross into the far corner with a looping header, although there was a hint of a shoulder in that one as well.
Lovely play from Malaga as Isco, Camacho and Rondon interchange passes before Gamez has found on the far side but the full-backs cross is well intercepted and Valencia look to launch a quick counter which comes to an abrupt end when Maresca is felled.
Neither side have stamped their identity on the match so far, and it appears that they are more worried about conceding the first opposed to scoring the opening goal.
Malaga clear with a long ball and the Valencia defence hesitates for a moment giving Rondon a sniff but Costa finally gets the ball under control and deals with the danger.
Valencia are first to the ball following Kameni's long ball and it break to Feghouli who has a sight of goal some 35-yards out, and he isn't afraid to shoot. He lines it up well but it has a wee bit too much power and it rises over the bar; as the half has gone so far that was a chance.
Soldado and Weligton come together as they look to chase a loose ball but the pace beats them both and it goes out for a goal kick.
Yellow Card Hedwiges Maduro
Medics are back on, this time it is a Malaga player feeling the pain - Enzo Maresca but he soon returns after that "magic sponge" and it is as you were.
Slow. Slow. Slow. Valencia bring the ball forward but with very little movement, and no pace the attack comes to a standstill and Weligton easily clears for the home side. A moment of magic, or a major mistake maybe what is needed for this game to find a life at the moment.
Replays show Guaita did manage to get a touch to that, quite some save. Meanwhile, Soldado is trudging off clutching his shoulder and appears to be in some discomfort, but the Spanish international is soon back on.
Yellow Card Camacho
The home support are wanting a foul for an innocuous foul, and the referee responds by awarding Valencia a free kick instead.
POST!?! Incredible effort from Eliseu who darted inside from the touchline before unleashing a superb effort which hammered back off the upright; Guaita may have got a touch and if he did that was some save.
Delivery is swung in towards the six yard box and Kameni looks to make it his, which he does before dropping the ball. But, with the 'keeper on the floor the referee blows for a foul - very little in it but when the man with the gloves falls to ground very rarely do you see play continue.
Feghouli latches onto Barragan's pass down the line and he manages to win a corner after his initial cross was blocked.
Mathieu, for the first time, moves up the left flank but his cross is poor and Kameni collects the delivery with ease. I'm sure the full-back will be sending a few more crosses in today, however.
Cazorla does well to get away from Feghouli but with little movement ahead of him he has to square the ball and any pace that the Spaniard had managed to inject into the match is lost immediately.
The hosts have managed to settle into an early rhythm and a beautiful switch into the sunshine basking the far side gives Joaquin with a chance to find a cross but it is too close to Guaita who takes the ball without a challenge.
Superb pass from the midfielder releases Pablo Piatti who has Soldado in support but the Argentine looks to go on his own and is route to goal is easily closed out by Weligton. That was a massive chance with Soldado in acres of space.
Joaquin has his back to goal inside the penalty area but isn't able to fashion a sight of goal as R. Costa blocked his effort and here is Valencia on the break with Maduro....
Ricardo Costa does well under pressure from a trio of Malaga attackers squeezing his pass to his center back companion Rami but the home side keep up the pressure and win a throw deep in Valencia's half.
Wasted. Feghouli's delivery doesn't beat the first man and Malaga manage to clear their lines.
It's a good delivery as well but a Malaga head manages to get there ahead of Tino Costa, and we have the game's first corner kick.
Here. We. Go. Valencia get us underway, as they quickly launch the ball forward toward Soldado who does well to win an early free kick on this near touchline.
Soldado and Weligton come into the middle for the coin toss which provokes a switch in ends, feel sorry for the 'keepers there...from one end of the pitch to the other. Heavy legs.
Customary hand-shakes as the pre-match rituals commence, Valencia don their full-black strip whilst Malaga are in the blue and white home outfit.
Edging ever closer to kick-off at La Rosaleda where they rain is falling which could make it difficult for the two 'keepers; beginning to get that buzzing feeling.
FACT: Santi Cazorla has scored the most goals from outside the box in La Liga this season (8).
Unai Emery is focused on helping Valencia return to the Champions League: "The most important thing now is that Valencia can compete at the highest level in Europe again and for that, La Liga is the way."
Twitter: @dquintonnnavarro. Do you think that Valencia will ever challenge the dominant pairing of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga as they once did under Rafa Benitez, or have they slipped behind for the foreseeable future as Pellegrini suggests? Get your thoughts in.
Manuel Pellegrini, Malaga's coach has said: "This is a very important match in the hunt for a Champions League place. Valencia have slipped behind Barca and Real in the past three years, but they are still a big club, with top players and a big-game mentality".
FACT: Valencia’s last three league games have seen the winning side net four goals.
What could be pivotal come the closing stages of the tie is fitness. Valencia played a Europa League semi-final on Thursday night, losing to Atletico Madrid which may leave them legless come the end of the match whilst Malaga have had three days extra rest.
As always, feel free to get involved wherever and whenever. Tweet, @dquintonnavarro predictions and the like. Our very own Roger Gonzalez thinks Malaga will edge this one 2-1, he says: "At home and with fans desperate for a win and European football, Malaga should have enough chances against a weak visiting defence to secure three important points." Agree, or disagree? Either way, Tweet, tweet, twooo.
Valencia Starting XI: Guaita; Barragan, Rami, R. Costa, Mathieu; Maduro, T. Costa; Feghouli, Piatti, Alba; Soldado.
Malaga Starting XI: Kameni; Gamez, Demichelis, Weligton, Eliseu; Isco, Camacho, Maresca, Cazorla; Joaquin; Rondon.
TEAM NEWS: Joaquin, Rondon and Cazorla start for Malaga, whilst Soldado and Barcelona target Jordi Alba start for Valencia.
Los Che ran out 2-0 winners on the day, Roberto Soldado grabbing a brace for Valencia as they registered a comfortable win. Quite simply for Malaga, a win by a margin of two or more goals will see the Costa del Sol club move up into third place; although matching Valencia's 2-0 win will see Unai Emery's side stay above their opponents on goal difference.
Three points separate these two sides, so here is a gentle reminder as to what happened when they met at Mestalla before the winter break…
The two teams on display tonight are the antithesis of one another when it comes to Champions League football; Valencia are looking to record a third consecutive season in the competition whilst Malaga are looking to make their first ever appearance amongst Europe's finest.
Welcome, I'm Daniel Quinton-Navarro and I'll be taking you guys through what could be a season defining 90 minutes for both of these two teams as the 2011/12 season draws to a close.
Malaga. Valencia. Fifth plays third, and just three points separate the two sides. This could be epic.
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