Málaga CF completed their debut UEFA Champions League group stage campaign unbeaten after a 2-2 home draw with an often excellent RSC Anderlecht side.
Two top-class Duda goals looked to have sealed victory for the already anointed Group C winners but Milan Jovanović and Dieudonné Mbokani replied with second-half strikes which rewarded the Belgian champions' invention and ambition. Yet with goalkeeper Carlos Kameni impressing, the Spanish club kept Anderlecht, who finished fourth in the section and missed out on the UEFA Europa League, at bay.
Despite the hosts missing eight first-teamers, and coach John van den Brom asking the visitors to start cautiously, the first half was bursting with sumptuous football. Málaga might have led by three goals inside the opening 11 minutes. Manuel Iturra shot centimetres past Silvio Proto's post, Proto saved one-on-one from Diego Buonanotte, then Oguchi Onyewu's cross invited Weligton to bulge the net but he fired over.
The bitter to offset the sweet came when Jérémy Toulalan collapsed holding his hamstring. Moments after Ignacio Camacho had replaced the Frenchman a long ball from Eliseu put Seba through, but the youngster dallied and Behrang Safari made the daring penalty-area interception.
That Manuel Pellegrini's men missed so many chances yet would still lead at half-time was thanks to Kameni, making his maiden appearance in the competition. His first save in the UEFA Champions League will compete with anything else seen this season. Jovanović's cross was perfect for Mbokani to head powerfully at goal but Kameni reacted at point-blank range. He excelled again to divert a Massimo Bruno vollley.
Reward for the Liga outfit came just before the interval with Duda's crashing left-foot shot into the top corner of Proto's net. Almost directly after the restart, however, Safari's ball let Mbokani set up Jovanović to neatly lob Kameni for the first Anderlecht equaliser. Jovanović then smashed a fierce effort off the post moments later.
The high-quality action – and scoring – continued. Soon after the hour Duda controlled immaculately to draw down Buonanotte's left-wing pass and smack the ball under the Anderlecht keeper for 2-1.
Proto denied Málaga's captain a hat-trick with a diving stop from his sweetly struck free-kick, before Kameni repelled Jovanović's close-range shot at the other end. However, Mbokani had the final word for Anderlecht, albeit in vain, sidefooting home Sacha Kljestan's cross with a minute left on the clock to restore parity.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.