Malaga's Roque Santa Cruz (R) is congratulated by team mates after scoring a goal against Porto during their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga, southern Spain March 13, 2013. (photo: Reuters)
Malaga's joy at qualifying for the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time was cut short when Espanyol condemned them to a 2-0 home defeat in La Liga on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini's side, on their first venture into Europe's top club competition, came back to beat Porto 2-1 on aggregate at a festive Rosaleda on Wednesday, but they struggled against a well-organised Espanyol.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero, the rock upon which much of their success has been built this season, made a rare mistake when he fumbled a corner in the 49th minute and Diego Colotto volleyed the visitors in front against the run of play.
The hosts looked short on spark and were undone again in the 66th when Mubarak Wakaso burst down the left and crossed for Sergio Garcia to volley a superb second into the top corner.
Home fans continued to sing and applaud their side despite the setback, but the defeat left Malaga, who have not won in their last four league outings, in sixth place with 44 points and 10 games left to play.
Real Sociedad and Valencia both won on Saturday to climb above them into fourth and fifth respectively.
Sociedad thumped Real Valladolid 4-1 to move on to 47 points, and Valencia beat 10-man Real Betis 3-0 to climb on to 45.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)