Ten-man Malaga maintained its impressive home record with a 2-1 victory over Villarreal on Monday that kept its European ambitions on track.
The newly-rich Andalusian side has set its target on upsetting the old order in the Spanish top flight following investment from Qatari Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani and currently lies in fifth place after a hard- fought win.
Malaga has won every match at La Rosaleda so far this season except for the visit of Real Madrid and started well with French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan scoring a rare goal after four minutes.
Villarreal was on the back foot but equalised through Marco Ruben after a fine run from Borja Valero.
The visitor came more into the game as the first half continued but five minutes from the break Malaga got what proved to be the decisive goal through Isco Alarcon after an initial shot from Jose Rondon had been saved by Villarreal 'keeper Diego Lopez.
Villarreal, which hasn't won away since beating Athletic Bilbao eight months ago, rallied and the host was reduced to 10 men when Toulalan was shown a second yellow card.
Then, on 76 minutes, Valero saw a shot tipped onto the cross bar but there was no way back for the visitor.