Sevilla draw with Malaga in Span­ish league open­ing game

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Sevilla man­aged to draw at Malaga 0-0 Fri­day de­spite los­ing Steven N’Zonzi in a mis­take­filled open­ing match of the Span­ish league sea­son.

For­mer Stoke City midfielder N’Zonzi had a for­get­table Liga de­but fol­low­ing his ?7 mil­lion (9.7 mil­lion euro) move in the off­sea­son.

He was need­lessly booked early for im­ped­ing a throw-in be­fore be­ing sent off with a sec­ond yel­low card for a foul in the 69th.

The match at La Ros­aleda mixed poor de­fend­ing and a slew of off-tar­get strikes. Add steady goal­keep­ing per­for­mances by Malaga’s Car­los Ka­meni and his coun­ter­part An­to­nio “Beto” Bas­tos, and the Span­ish league started with a goal­less dud.

Kevin Gameiro wasted his op­por­tu­nity to prove he could lead Sevilla’s at­tack — af­ter Car­los Bacca’s de­par­ture for AC Mi­lan — by squan­der­ing three great chances in the first 20 min­utes.

That may mo­ti­vate Sevilla to sign another striker be­fore the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow closes at the end of the month. The club is re­ported to be in­ter­ested in Ju­ven­tus’ Fer­nando Llorente.

“I’m happy with the play­ers I had for the match. As long as we cre­ate chances I’m happy,” Sevilla coach Unai Emery said. “Gameiro and (Ciro) Im­mo­bile are ca­pa­ble, but we are open to any player who can come and im­prove our team be­fore Au­gust 31.”

Bacca helped guide Sevilla to con­sec­u­tive Europa League ti­tles and a Cham­pi­ons League berth for this cam­paign.

Sevilla didn’t miss his fire­power in its thrilling 5-4 loss to Barcelona in the UEFA Su­per Cup last week. But the first league match was a dif­fer­ent story.

Im­mo­bile, brought in to re­place Bacca, only played the fi­nal nine min­utes with his team un­der­manned and fo­cused on pre­serv­ing a point.

By then Gameiro had seen his chances come and go. The French for­ward first fired a re­bound into the side net­ting in the 12th. He fol­lowed that by shoot­ing wide from close in the 16th and send­ing a strike high two min­utes later.

Malaga’s play­ers didn’t have their best day ei­ther. Nordin Am­ra­bat lacked the fin­ish­ing touch twice in the fi­nal min­utes, while Arthur Boka proved to be deft at drib­bling into the area but un­able to put the ball be­tween the up­rights.

Barcelona opens its ti­tle de­fense on Sun­day when it vis­its Ath­letic Bil­bao less than a week af­ter los­ing 5-1 on ag­gre­gate to the Basques in the Span­ish Su­per Cup. Real Madrid plays later on Sun­day at pro­moted Sport­ing Gi­jon.

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