Following eight agonising months with just a single point from 12 away games, Malaga finally picked up a win on the road with a 2-0 victory at Anoeta.
Despite terrible luck with officials over recent months, it was the referee who was key to Sunday’s victory over a Real Sociedad side which has hit a rut after a promising start to the campaign.
As early as the sixth minute, the Basque side’s recent fortunes were typified by Mikel Oyarzabal who missed a glorious opportunity to give his side the lead after Adnan Januzaj hung up a cross to the back post only for the unmarked winger to get his header completely wrong.
At the other end, Íñigo Martínez also got his wires all crossed – this time to devastating effect. The defender was disposessed by Keko just outside the area and the winger fed Borja Bastón, starting in the place of the injured Diego Rolán, who was felled by a clumsy challenge from keeper Gerónimo Rulli.
The same men came face-to-face for the penalty and Bastón got the better of the stopper once again who dived the wrong way.
With their advantage, Malaga allowed the hosts to continue their domination of the ball, sitting deep in two banks of four. This invited Sociedad to attempt shots from outside the box with both Xabi Prieto and Willian José dragging their efforts wide.
The latter came a lot closer in the second half when he teed himself up just outside the six-yard box from the former’s header; the effort clipped the post on the way out for a goalkick.
Adalberto Peñaranda became Malaga’s latest injury casualty in the 53rd minute when he came off worst from a robust challenge from Alberto de la Bella. The Venezuelan had to be stretchered off and will be a doubt for the Andalusian derby at La Rosaleda next Monday against Real Betis.
His replacement Youssef En-Nesyri was thrust straight into the action and brought about the second penalty of the game as Willian José handled the ball under his challenge.
There were several battles within the war on Sunday with Diego Llorente and Juanpi hosting their former employers but it was former Sociedad man Chory Castro, wearing orange on the day, who would make the most telling contribution. He was right on the spot to follow up when Rulli guessed right this time from Bastón, to bag Malaga’s second and the game’s decisive goal.
The winger didn’t celebrate on his old stomping ground but his goal could be vital in Malaga’s search for survival with the gap to 16th place now closed to just four points.