MADRID (AFP) - Valencia reclaimed fourth spot from Real Mallorca thanks to a fortunate 1-0 win over bottom side Malaga on Sunday with defender David Navarro's first goal of the season clinching the points.
Centre-back Navarro jumped highest at the back post to head in a Pablo Hernandez cross for the winning goal on 68 minutes as Valencia moved a point behind third-placed Sevilla.
"No games are easy and this one against Malaga certainly wasn't," said Valencia coach Unai Emery. "It was a tough game in which we had our chances but so did Malaga and we needed a big save from Cesar (Sanchez) towards the end."
Malaga continue to prop up the table having not won since the opening day of the season when they thrashed Atletico Madrid 3-0.
David Villa, the league's joint top-scorer with seven goals, almost scored for Valencia in the third minute when his cross crashed against the post to safety.
Juan Mata then had a goal ruled out for offside and Pablo Hernandez went agonisingly close with a drive as Malaga were over-run.
Albert Luque had the hosts' best first half chance sliding in at the back post but could not get a foot on the devilish cross.
Villa went close with a lobbed effort in the second half but the goal was to come from a surprising source as Navarro capitalised on some slack defending to head home.
Malaga spurned several chances to equalise with Valencia goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez in fine form.
Real Mallorca are a point behind Valencia after maintaining their 100 percent home record with a 1-0 win over Racing Santander on Sunday.
Cameroon striker Pierre Webo scored the decisive goal to make it a perfect five wins for Mallorca at their fortress-like Ono Stadium.
Deportivo La Coruna can move above Mallorca and join Valencia on 18 points with a home win over Sporting Gijon later on Sunday.
Earlier Villarreal powered out of the bottom three thrashing promoted Tenerife at El Madrigal where three of the hosts' five unanswered goals came in a magical six-minute spell.
"We won 5-0 but it was far from easy and in fact Tenerife were the most difficult team we have faced," said Villarreal coach Ernesto Valverde.
"The big difference was that on this occasion our strikers were clinical and killed off the game especially at the start of the second half."
An action-packed start to the second half saw veteran French midfielder Robert Pires put Villarreal 2-0 up 60 seconds after the break before Giuseppe Rossi (51 min) and Jose Llorente (52) put hapless Tenerife to the sword.
Llorente had opened the scoring after 14 minutes and Ruben Cani ended the goal-scoring rout in the 88th minute.
After going seven games without a win Villarreal have now recorded successive victories and move up five places to 13th in the table.
Villarreal's win sees Atletico Madrid, who face Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday, fall into the bottom three with just one win from nine games.
Tenerife hover just above the relegation zone after failing to collect a point on their travels.
|Coach: Juan Muñiz|
for Juanito 47'
for Albert Luque 70'
for Xavi Torres 73'
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