Málaga beat Athletic Bilbao in thrilling La Liga opening

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Whilst it might not have had the billing the cup game between Madrid's giants did, Málaga versus Athletic Bilbao served up a quite pulsating ending in La Liga's curtain raiser.

The home side beat their Basque rivals at the Rosaleda, courtesy of Liverpool loanee Luis Alberto's first goal in a Málaga shirt, but that doesn't tell half the story. 


Málaga went ahead via the penalty spot, after Athletic keeper Gorka Iraizoz brought down Roque Santa Cruz, on what would be a busy night for the the 33-year-old goalie.

New signing Luis Alberto took responsibility from twelve yards, and whilst his initial effort was saved, he tucked in the rebound to put Málaga ahead. In a feisty game of few opportunities, it looked as if Málaga were strolling to victory heading into the last ten minutes, until the side from Costa del Sol decided to self-implode.

Red Cards

Málaga manager Javi Garcia sent experienced Portuguese winger Duda on to see the game out, however the 34-year-old took exception to Athletic youngster Iker Munian squaring up to him when Duda struck the ball in his direction after the referee had blown a halt to the game for a foul.

Duda proceeded to shove Munian to the ground, swiftly receiving his marching orders in the 89th minute.

Málaga full-back Antunes then incredibly also saw red in the 92nd minute, for a terrible scissor-tackle on Guillermo. Whist the tackle was luckily not as ferocious as first looked, the intent was there nonetheless, so Antunes could have little argument.

Late leveller disallowed  

Nine-man Málaga were clearly shook up, and Athletic sensed an equaliser. Athletic won a free-kick in the dying seconds of the match, and as has become commonplace in football, Iraizoz abandoned his goal to pose a threat in the opposition's area.

With the cross whipped in, Iraizoz crashed in a fantastic header from twelve yards out, to the stunned jubilation of Athletic's supporters. No sooner did the reality of what had just happened sink in for Iraizoz than the referee, quite mystifyingly, ruled the goal out.

No clear infringement took place, with the goalkeeper well onside. The ref signalled the end of play, and a quite scintillating last ten minutes was over.

The drama of the end of the opening match is unlikely to be equalled all season, with Iraizoz denied a historic goal. Málaga get the three points, but only just!             

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