Malaga returned to winning ways as they saw off a desperately poor Valencia 4-0 at home to climb to fourth in Spain’s Primera Division on Saturday.
Francisco Portillo, Javier Saviola, Roque Santa Cruz and Isco were all on target as Manuel Pellegrini’s side notched their first win in November.
They laboured to make the most of Portillo’s superb eighth-minute curler, however, with a bumpy pitch at the Rosaleda doing little to help their cause.
Malaga squandered a host of chances before Argentine Saviola struck a deflected second in the 74th minute, and Paraguayan substitute Santa Cruz followed up soon after. Isco fired in a long-range fourth at the end.
Malaga moved on to 22 points from 13 games, four behind champions Real Madrid in third, who were beaten 1-0 by Real Betis later on Saturday. Valencia were tenth with 18 points.
Both Valencia and Malaga had qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League during the week, but Valencia’s exertions appeared to have taken a heavier toll.
Malaga rested a number of key figures for their 2-2 draw away at Zenit St Petersburg, while Mauricio Pellegrino’s side battled back with 10 men to draw 1-1 at home to Bayern Munich.
Valencia also missed suspended top scorer Roberto Soldado, but were kept in the game by goalkeeper Diego Alves until the last 15 minutes, when a second yellow card for defender Adil Rami contributed to their late collapse.
Earlier, exciting young Brazilian forward Leo Baptistao was the difference as Rayo Vallecano ran out 2-0 winners over plummeting Real Mallorca, scoring both goals in the last three minutes.
The 20-year-old, who had already had a header ruled out for offside, broke the deadlock with a fierce low drive from outside the area, and then dribbled past two players to set up Andrija Delibasic for a tap in at the end.
A thumping shot from Manucho earned Valladolid a 1-0 win over Granada.