Thursday 22 February 2018

Malaga fight back to beat 10-man Athletic Bilbao with two late goals

Juande Ramos saw his Malaga side pick up a late victory over Athletic Bilbao
Juande Ramos saw his Malaga side pick up a late victory over Athletic Bilbao

Malaga lifted some of the pressure on under-fire coach Juande Ramos as they came from behind late on to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at La Rosaleda.

The Basque side had reeled off four successive LaLiga wins coming into this game and an assured finish from Aritz Aduriz in the third minute looked like it would set up another.

But the pivotal moment was the red card shown to Athletic full-back Mikel Balenziaga, who retaliated when Roberto Rosales left a boot in on him after a defensive clearance.

Balenziaga may face further sanction after remonstrating with the referee for several minutes before departing, and his team-mates were unable to hold on without him as quickfire goals inside the last 10 minutes from Sandro Ramirez and Duda earned the Andalusians just their second win in seven league matches.

The home side also finished with 10 men as defender Bakary Kone was sent off in the dying seconds.

Athletic looked confident and forged ahead when Oscar de Marcos clipped a beautifully-weighted pass into the path of Aduriz. The veteran forward expertly controlled it before applying a calm side-foot finish beyond Carlos Kameni for his fourth goal in as many LaLiga games.

The visitors gave Malaga something to cling to for the second period when Balenziaga paid the price for his moment of madness 10 minutes before half-time. Rosales was arguably lucky not to have been dismissed too, but the referee decided a booking was sufficient punishment for him.

Rosales flashed a low shot past Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz's right-hand post early in the second period, and his cross in the 57th minute was inviting for Youssef En-Nesyri to attack but he headed over.

The same combination almost yielded the leveller with 12 minutes to go, as this time Rosales cut one back from closer to the byline and En-Nesyri headed wide from six yards.

The equaliser came as Athletic switched off with Duda's corner seemingly bound to go straight out of play. Chory Castro somehow kept it in on the far touchline, his cross came all the way back to the right-hand side for Duda who teed up Sandro to sweep home.

It was 2-1 less than two minutes later as Castro threaded a pass to Juan Carlos and Duda turned home his cross from six yards as Ramos breathed a sigh of relief.

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