|Toulalan celebrates with teammate Sergio Sanchez but the Frenchman would later receive his marching orders [AFP]|
Jeremy Toulalan scored and was later sent off as Malaga held on to secure a 2-1 home win against injury-ravaged Villarreal that lifted them back above Sevilla into fifth in the Spanish Primera Division.
Coached by former Villarreal boss Manuel Pellegrini, ambitious Qatari-owned Malaga took the lead in the fifth minute at their Rosaleda stadium when Frenchman Toulalan nodded in from a corner.
Villarreal’s Argentine striker Marco Ruben, filling in for sidelined first-choice pair Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar, levelled in the 16th minute when he finished off a swift breakaway with a powerful drive high into the net.
Isco netted what proved to be the winning goal after he played Venezuela striker Salomon Rondon through five minutes before half time on Monday.
The 19-year-old midfielder followed up on Rondon’s saved effort to poke the ball past Diego Lopez to give Malaga their fourth win in five matches.
Toulalan was shown a second yellow card with around 15 minutes left for a foul on the edge of the home penalty area and former Spain international Marcos Senna curled the ball against the bar from the resulting free kick.
Leaders Real Madrid moved six clear of great rivals Barcelona on 34 points at the weekend after Jose Mourinho’s side thumped city rivals Atletico 4-1 and champions Barca suffered their first defeat of the campaign at Getafe, losing 1-0.
Valencia are third, a point behind Barca, after a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano, with surprise packages Levante a further point back in fourth thanks to a 4-0 success at home to Sporting Gijon.
Malaga are three points behind Levante and Sevilla, who won 1-0 at Real Zaragoza, are two behind in sixth.
Barca play Vallecano on Tuesday.