Malaga 1-1 Real Madrid: Zinedine Zidane's men fortunate to escape with draw
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 21/02/16 6:35pm
Real Madrid were fortunate to escape with a 1-1 draw at Malaga in a match that saw Cristiano Ronaldo score but miss a first-half penalty.
With Barcelona opening up a 10-point lead at the top of the table on Saturday, Real could not afford any slip-ups, but Malaga dominated for long periods, and missed a host of chances to snatch all three points.
There was a great deal of fortune about the game's opener, with Ronaldo heading Toni Kroos' free-kick into the net from an offside position (33).
But Ronaldo was involved in a moment that proved pivotal, seeing his spot-kick saved by Carlos Kameni just minutes later.
Malaga continued to control proceedings in the second half, and got a deserved equaliser through defender Raul Albentosa (66) and had chances to seal victory.
Zinedine Zidane's men moved above rivals Atletico, at least temporarily, on goal difference but they must overturn a hefty deficit if they are to secure another league title, while spirited Malaga move into the top half with their point.
Los Blancos had to make three changes to the team, and looked much less potent as an attacking force without Karim Benzema leading the line.
Malaga took advantage of a disjointed Real and should have taken the lead on several occasions.
Firstly, after another defensive mistake, this time from Kroos, Anor Juanpi was clean through on goal, with only Keylor Navas to beat, but his shot was tame and was saved easily.
Then, after brilliant work from Ignacio Camacho to win the ball back, Juanpi played in Duje Cop, somewhat inadvertently, but Cop dallied and took touches he did not need to make, and sliced wide, showing a real lack of composure.
Straight down the other end, Kameni was forced into a superb save to deny Jese as he delayed his shot, before Ronaldo controversially broke the deadlock.
Kroos whipped a perfect free-kick into the middle, Ronaldo was unmarked, rose highest, and headed superbly past Kameni - even if replays showed he was in an offside position.
Just over a minute later, Ronaldo was felled by Weligton in the box but Kameni got down superbly to his left to keep out the penalty - becoming only the third La Liga 'keeper to thwart Ronaldo from 12 yards.
Juanpi then should have equalised again for the home side, but was denied by the legs of Navas, and the top of the crossbar.
After the break, Malaga came again. Navas showed brilliant reactions after Horta had whipped a wicked cross into the box. The ball flicked off Nacho, but the Real stopper stuck out a hand and tipped it over.
However, the hosts' deserved equaliser finally came on 66 minutes, and it took two central defenders to unlock the visitors.
Weligton was brilliantly played in down the left, and the veteran skipper squared for Albentosa to rifle into the roof of the net.
If one team was going to win it, it was Malaga, with Navas again forced into a brilliant stop to keep out a Charles header.
It turned out to be a point gained for Real, who were second best throughout, but their title aspirations hang by a thread.