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'
|Former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid star Ze Roberto to play beyond 43rd birthday|
|Barcelona friendly awaits new Chapecoense coach Mancini|
|Arsenal are privileged to have Sanchez and Ozil - Monreal|
|Watzke denies agreement to discuss Aubameyang transfer with Madrid|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Nice: Champions hunting down shock leaders|
|Giggs tells Rashford how to end his goal drought|
|Manchester United without Shaw, Smalling for Tottenham clash|
|Willems inks PSV renewal|
|Costa and Conte scoop Premier League awards|
|Conte detained on suspicion of assault|
|Strootman ban for derby ´simulation´ overturned|
|Mourinho demands more goals from Rooney|
|Bobo preserves Sydney´s unbeaten start in Cup final rematch|
|Luis Enrique: I don´t dare predict if Messi will renew|
|Mourinho admits changing style for United|
|Sanchez talk is disrespectful, says Conte|
|Sassuolo 0 Genk 2: Visitors seal top spot|
|Sterling back for City as Guardiola predicts tough Leicester test|
|Mourinho still the ´Special One´ for Pochettino|
|Matic return leaves Conte with Fabregas dilemma|
|Guardiola expects greater impact from City youngsters next season|
|Klopp defends Karius after Bournemouth blunder|
|Pirlo visits Chelsea - but Conte is not signing him|
|Ronaldo, Modric rested for Deportivo clash|
|Tuchel hails returning Reus|
|Klopp has ´no idea´ on Sturridge return|
|´My players are intelligent and good people´ - Zidane on Ronaldo´s taxes|
|Atletico to play at ´Wanda Metropolitano´|
|Real Madrid to rest Benzema and start Morata against Deportivo|
|Ancelotti rules out Draxler bid as Bayern prepare for barren transfer window|
|Ighalo calls on Watford to sign Mikel|
|Pardew wants defender and striker to bolster Palace survival push|
|Moyes: M´Vila doesn´t have the fight for Sunderland|
|Leipzig only built to earn Red Bull money - Watzke|
|Shenhua director blasts CSL imports... but desperate for Tevez deal|
|Ribery: Bayern my last club in Europe|
|Hughes targets Arsenal fans to help Stoke end dismal away run|
|83 suspects, 98 clubs ´impacted´ in football abuse probe|
|Fowler pleads with Liverpool to keep ´top quality´ Sturridge|
|Reus ´100 per cent different´ on comeback|
|Ibrahimovic ´super happy´ for rejuvenated Mkhitaryan|
|Vertonghen: Football needs Mourinho|
|Title triumph went to Leicester´s heads, admits Ranieri|
|Conceicao named new Nantes coach|
|LaLiga lead means nothing - Zidane|
|Chapecoense add two stars to badge in wake of air disaster|
|Blatter accuses Infantino of lack of respect|
|Austin injury compounds Puel´s misery|
|Gestifute publishes further evidence of ´Ronaldo tax compliance´|
|Pioli eyes further Inter improvement|
|´I feel s***´ - Van Dijk blasts Southampton after Europa League collapse|
|Mourinho marvels at Mkhitaryan mentality after Zorya stunner|
|Southampton 1 Hapoel Be´er Sheva 1: Late Van Dijk leveller not enough as visitors progress|
|Inter 2 Sparta Prague 1: Eder double sends hosts out on a high|
|Vieira wanted Arsenal coaching opportunity|
|Vieira hopes MLS experience puts him in frame to replace Guardiola|
|Mkhitaryan: I waited a long time for this|
|Zorya 0 Manchester United 2: Mkhitaryan magic sends Mourinho´s men through|
|Ranieri urges Leicester players to fight for their futures|
|Cellino banned for 18 months over McCormack transfer|
|Koeman demands reaction from dropped Barkley|
|Tevez unsure on Boca future amid China speculation|
|Bradley vows to fight for his job at Swansea|
|Koeman speaks out on Depay, Schneiderlin links|
|Wenger unconvinced by World Cup expansion plans|
|Kovac brothers sign new Frankfurt deals|
|Selling Sturridge would be a mistake, says Rush|
|UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings against Besiktas, Dynamo Kiev|
|Filipe Luis suffers thigh tear|
|Kashima Antlers 2 Auckland City 1: Late Kanazaki header the difference|
|Suarez´s Barca renewal already done, says Bartomeu|
|Barcelona invite Chapecoense for Joan Gamper Trophy|
|Arsenal would have a chance against Real Madrid, insists Wenger|
|FIFA chief Infantino calls for zero tolerance on child abuse|
|Sanchez will not leave Arsenal for China - Wenger|
|Dybala delighted with Juventus return|
|Rashford desperate to learn from Ibrahimovic|
|Weigl not ready for Real Madrid - Tuchel|
|Why Zidane must drop Ronaldo at the Club World Cup|
|Barton: They built me up into a Neymar-Messi type|
|Shakhtar aware of Barca interest in Srna - Fonseca|
|Mets hitting coach believes Tebow can make it to MLB|
|Aubameyang reiterates Madrid dream after Bernabeu show|
|Zidane praises Benzema after 50th Champions League goal|
|Aubameyang deserves 99 per cent of credit - Reus|
|Neymar: There´s only one Ballon d´Or winner and it´s Messi, not Ronaldo|
|Magiera hails Legia victory as for ´all of Poland´|
|Tuchel thought Aubameyang had blown chance to equalise|
|Pochettino confident Spurs are back on track|
|Santo hails Porto´s mature performance|
|Lyon proved we can compete with Europe´s best - Genesio|
|Slutsky unsurprised by apparent Premier League interest in Dzagoev|
|Jardim frustrated as Monaco finally lose|
|Allegri dismisses importance of first-place finish|
|Zidane ´angry´ as Real Madrid let top spot slip|
|Sevilla aren´t satisfied with Champions League last 16 - Sampaoli|
|Ranieri slams Leicester´s lack of character|
|Confident Roberts ready to wing in for City|
|Real Madrid equal record 34-match unbeaten run|
|Kane relieved to end Wembley hoodoo|
|Legia Warsaw 1 Sporting CP 0: Guilherme seals Europa League spot|
|Porto 5 Leicester City 0: Silva at the double as Ranieri´s men crumble|
|Borussia Dortmund break record for goals in Champions League group stage|
|Real Madrid 2 Borussia Dortmund 2: Reus equaliser sees visitors grab top spot|
|Bayer Leverkusen 3 Monaco 0: Hosts retain unbeaten record with routine win|
|Club Brugge 0 FC Copenhagen 2: Routine win not enough as FCK must settle for Europa League|
|Lyon 0 Sevilla 0: Europa League holders secure passage|
|Juventus 2 Dinamo Zagreb 0: Bianconeri top group with easy win|
|Tottenham 3 CSKA Moscow 1: Spurs survive scare to seal Europa League berth|
|Benzema reaches 50 Champions League goals|
|Buffon´s 50-game Champions League run comes to an end|
|Santi Cazorla gives Achiles surgery two thumbs up|
|Video technology to assist referees at FIFA Club World Cup|
|Spalletti wants winning mentality to continue for Roma|
|M´Vila rejects Sunderland return|
|Robson-Kanu prioritised Premier League move, despite Atleti interest|
|Puel dismisses Fonte departure speculation|
|Mourinho rejects ´best coach in the world´ tag|
|Manchester United not giving up on Premier League, insists Mkhitaryan|
|Infantino favours 16 three-team groups at World Cup - report|
|Europa League an ´important competition´ for Mourinho|
|Brozovic extends Inter stay|
|Rooney still has England future - Hodgson|
|New wardrobe top of Jesus´ Manchester to-do list|
|Pioli not concerned by Simeone´s Inter comments|
|Poyet: It would be a pleasure to sign Tevez|
|Celtic charged by UEFA over crowd disturbances|
|Not extending Man United stay my only regret - Larsson|
|Aubameyang´s mum: He always spoke about Madrid, never Barcelona|
|AC Milan sale delayed until March|
|Police horse burger thrower fined|
|Nolito comfortable with Guardiola´s rotation policy|
|Ajax expect in-demand Bazoer to exit|
|Not even the Golden Boot would get me an England recall, says Defoe|
|MLS MVP Villa has no interest in Premier League move|
|Vidal: I never had a problem with Luis Enrique|
|Ancelotti not keen on Madrid Champions League reunion|
|Zabaleta: Guardiola needs Iheanacho more than ever|
|Ranieri not fearful of Foxes chop|
|Celtic fan arrested for throwing burger at police horse|
|Dad-to-be Lewandowski reveals baby news with goal celebration|
|Klopp´s Liverpool watched Barca at Camp Nou|
|Wenger braced for tough last-16 draw|
|Roberts buoyed by Guardiola acclaim|
|Gladbach´s Alvaro Dominguez retires at 27|
|Simeone satisfied with aggressive Atletico|
|Emery aims to bounce back after European disappointment|
|Madrid demand ´maximum respect´ for Ronaldo|
|No pressure on Iheanacho to fill Aguero´s boots - Guardiola|
|Cocu praises PSV effort despite European exit|
|Ancelotti hoping for confidence boost|
|Gunes takes blame for Besiktas thrashing|