It is unlikely to be the start of a great escape, but Malaga ended a run of seven consecutive defeats with a goalless draw that dented Celta Vigo’s aspirations for Europe on Sunday night.
The match at Balaidos won’t go down as a classic by any stretch of the imagination, with both sides offering little in terms of creativity.
Pione Sisto created an opening for the hosts through his direct running in the 35th minute but couldn’t get enough whip on the ball to direct it inside the far post.
Moments later it was the turn of Chory Castro who, cutting in from the right, dragged his low shot just wide of the near post.
After a first half in which they afforded too much respect to the bottom side, Celta, and especially forward Iago Aspas, came out more determined in the second 45.
The former Liverpool man picked up a booking for his troubles after complaining that the Malaga defenders, especially Miguel Torres, were giving him overtly rough treatment. In fact, on two occasions he had penalty appeals turned down.
Unperturbed, Aspas forced the first save of the game out of Roberto with a snapshot from the right-hand side of the area, but the Malaga keeper got down quickly and pushed the ball out to where no one was following in.
Aspas then got in behind Torres but with a tightening angle, could only hit his shot at Roberto’s legs.
The pressure on the Malaga goal continued to increase but when Aspas missed from six yards out with an open goal to aim at, you got the feeling it wasn’t going to be Celta’s day.
In fact, it could have got much worse for Celta in stoppage time when Malaga substitute Maxime Lestienne almost won it for the visitors when his dragged shot, on his weaker right foot, came back out off the post.
An improvement overall for Malaga but surely too little, too late.