Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty as Real Madrid slipped further off the pace in La Liga’s title race after being held to a 1-1 draw by Malaga at La Rosaleda on Sunday.
Holders Barcelona extended their lead over Zinedine Zidane’s men to 10 points with Saturday’s victory over Las Palmas, meaning Madrid, missing injured striker Karim Benzema and the suspended Raphael Varane, could ill-afford a slip-up on the south coast.
Having survived early Malaga pressure, all looked to be on track for Madrid who saw Ronaldo – in the absence of Benzema and Gareth Bale due to injuries – open the scoring and falter from the spot within six first-half minutes.
Buoyed by Carlos Kameni’s penalty heroics, Malaga were in command against an out-of-sorts Madrid after the break and were back level when centre-backs Weligton and Raul Albentosa combined for the latter to level after 66 minutes.
Malaga have beaten Atletico Madrid and ran Barca close in defeat at La Rosaleda recently and Javi Gracia’s men kept their European hopes alive with a hard-earned point against another of the title hopefuls.
Perhaps fatigued from their Champions League win at Roma in midweek, Madrid’s chances of breaking Barca’s domestic dominance now appear slim at best.
Zidane opted to include ex-Malaga midfielder Isco in his front three ahead of James Rodriguez while Gracia recalled Recio and Horta into his XI.
Malaga were on top in the early stages, amid a frenetic start, and saw Juanpi spurn a glorious opportunity to take the lead when he diverted a tame effort straight at Keylor Navas following a mix-up between Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos.
Horta found the side-netting with an attempt from inside the area before Ronaldo became heavily involved in proceedings.
Having been angered at an apparent elbow from Albentosa off the ball, Ronaldo responded by glancing Kroos’ free-kick past Kameni to open the scoring 33 minutes in.
However, after a run into the box was halted unfairly by Weligton, Ronaldo was unable to beat Kameni from the spot soon after as the Malaga goalkeeper saved relatively comfortably down to his left.
Duje Cop almost made Ronaldo pay before the break but his shot struck Navas and found the top of the crossbar with Ramos waiting to clear on the line.
The Madrid goalkeeper was busy after the restart too, tipping Horta’s strike over the crossbar after a deflection off Ramos as Malaga again looked dangerous early in the half.
Aside from a Ronaldo effort saved comfortably by Kameni, the hosts were on top before the hour and eventually had their reward when Albentosa hammered a side-footed effort home after Weligton’s cross from the left.
Rodriguez was introduced for the final stages and forced Kameni into action with a tame volley, while Marcelo could only drag a shot wide and Ronaldo found the side-netting as Zidane’s men dropped league points for the second time in his tenure.
Key Opta stats:
– Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 goals against Malaga in La Liga, more than any other team in the competition.
– Kameni is the fourth goalkeeper to save a Cristiano penalty shot in La Liga (Diego Alves and Gorka Iraizoz).
– Kroos has already given more assists in this La Liga season (8) than in the whole last season (7).
– Before this game, all Albentosa’s goals in La Liga had been headers (3).