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Malaga Beats Racing Santander 3-1

Not quite sure that to make of Malaga. After beating Racing Santander tonight they are up to fifth place in La Liga, four points behind third place Valencia.

Maybe it is was money that they spent this summer that changed expectations, but I expected Malaga to be closer than 11 points behind Real Madrid after only 12 games.

As I said, money changes expectations and Manuel Pellegrini’s side probably needed a couple of months to assimilate all the news players into his system so that they could be comfortable playing alongside each other.

Early on tonight Racing were the better side and Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero needed to punch away a pair of Pedro Munitis set-pieces before Fernandez had the first chance for the visitors in the 16th minute.

Jose Rondon missed a fine opening to put Malaga ahead in the 25th minute when he screwed a shot wide from six yards, and they came even closer on 39 minutes when Joris Mathijsen’s close-range header was tipped over the bar by Antonio Tono.

Malaga finally made their breakthrough three minutes into the second half when Isco swept home from six yards after Rondon had set him up with a short pass from inside the box.

Papakouli Diop fired high for the home side but Malaga were in control with Tono tipping an Isco shot round the post before the visitors extended their lead on 65 minutes when Gonzalez deflected a Mathijsen header into his own net.

Racing responded well, pulling a goal back five minutes later through Arana’s low drive from the edge of the box, and Adrian Gonzalez came close to an equaliser when his shot was tipped round the post by Caballero.

But the visitors held firm and secured the points with two minutes remaining when substitute Ruud van Nistelrooy crossed from the right and Fernandez lashed a left-footed shot into the top corner of the net.