Malaga steal late point at Villarreal
Villarreal suffered disappointment for the third successive league match after conceding a late equaliser at home to bottom club Malaga. Villarreal had been beaten 1-0 by lowly Levante and Deportivo La Coruna in their previous two outings, but the Yellow Submarine looked set to get back on track this evening thanks to Marco Ruben's first-half strike.
However, Malaga, under the guidance of former Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini, hit back through Sebastian Fernandez eight minutes from time to salvage a share of the points. The result means Villarreal missed the chance to draw level on 48 points with third-placed Valencia, who were held to a goalless home draw by Sporting Gijon last night.
For Malaga, the draw leaves the Andalusian still four points adrift of safety at foot of the standings and now without a win in seven games. Villarreal's last home match saw them beaten 1-0 by third-bottom Levante - the Yellow Submarine's first loss at El Madrigal this season - but another setback looked unlikely today after taking the lead through Ruben.
Giuseppe Rossi, who has been struggling with illness recently, was put through on goal and although his shot was half-stopped by Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero, Ruben was able to turn the loose ball in from close range.
Villarreal then really should have wrapped the game up after creating a number of decent openings, with Nilmar twice denied by Caballero before Santi Cazorla curled a free-kick against the crossbar. Then, from the same attack, Cazorla then broke through in the area, but Caballero again prevented the home side from increasing their lead.
Villarreal were then made to pay the price for not getting a second goal as they were hit by a quick breakaway in the 82nd minute as Malaga drew level.
The hosts felt they perhaps should have been awarded a penalty after Nilmar went crashing under a heavy challenge by Eliseu Pereira, but play was waved on and Malaga quickly set Jose Salomon Rondon away down the left and his low cross was tapped in by the unmarked Fernandez in the middle.