Sevilla open La Liga campaign with goalless draw at Malaga
MALAGA, Spain --
Sevilla managed to draw at Malaga 0-0 Friday despite losing Steven N'Zonzi in a mistake-filled opening match of the Spanish league season.
Former Stoke City midfielder N'Zonzi had a forgettable Liga debut following his 7 million pound (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.