Malaga tightened their hold on fourth place in La Liga following a largely undeserved 2-0 victory away at Sevilla in the Andalucian derby.
Sevilla dominated the first half, hitting both bar and post, but were undone after the break when Martin Demichelis converted with a header and Eliseu scored from the spot after Federico Fazio had been dismissed for a foul on Joaquin.
Manuel Pellegrini will not have been impressed by the performance of the Champions League contenders - though they improved in the second half - but a victory still puts Malaga three points clear of Real Betis in fourth and within fourth points of Real Madrid, even if both clubs have played a game less.
Sevilla enjoyed a tremendous start at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan as their quick passing and energetic pressing saw them dominate possession and pepper the Malaga goal with shots. Indeed, after only three minutes they should have taken the lead.
Star striker Alvaro Negredo broke in behind the visiting defence and after rounding goalkeeper Willy Caballero had only to tuck the ball away. But the Spain international somehow contrived to strike the post with his right foot, the ball rebounding into the arms of the grateful Malaga keeper.
Negredo, performing as the lone striker, was a constant threat. After 11 minutes he fired in a low effort from a tight angle that Caballero did well to block, with the sprightly Jesus Navas unable to convert from the rebound. Later he drew a yellow card for Weligton after turning neatly away from the Malaga defender.
The visitors were repeatedly exposed in a disjointed and unconvincing performance and Caballero certainly looked lost when a cross from Ivan Rakitic looped over his head and glanced the top of the bar. In attack, meanwhile, Malaga were toothless, the first half failing to produce a single shot on target for Pellegrini's side.
Inside five minutes of the second half, though, they took an unexpected lead. Joaquin pinged a deep corner to the back post and when Demichelis rose to send a looping header back across goal, Negredo was unable to head it away on the goal-line.
Sevilla presumably could not believe they were managing to lose a game they had completely dominated and their mood darkened further when Rakitic was brought down by a clumsy challenge from Ignacio Camacho following a fumble from Caballero, only for a corner to be awarded and not a penalty.
Incredibly, though, Malaga were awarded a penalty after 70 minutes in an incident that effectively settled the game in favour of the visitors. Fazio was shown a red card as he was the last man when bringing down Joaquin just inside the box, and Eliseu dispatched a confident spot-kick to double his side's lead.
There was no coming back for Sevilla, their high-octane start long forgotten as Malaga stole all three points.
- Sports & Recreation