Malaga edge Getafe; stay in top-four running

Malaga boosted their hopes of a top-four finish in La Liga with a narrow 2-1 victory over mid-table Getafe at La Rosaleda.

Malaga receives the perfect gift from Santa...

Goals either side of half-time by Roque Santa Cruz and Weligton put the hosts in control, before Juan Valera grabbed a consolation for Getafe with 15 minutes left.

Malaga - banned from Europe for next season over unpaid bills - headed into the game on the back of last weekend's thumping 5-1 defeat at Valencia.

And they found themselves under pressure early on, with goalkeeper Willy Caballero called upon to keep out efforts from Pedro Leon and Abdelaziz Barrada inside the opening 15 minutes.

However, Malaga soon found their feet, Julio Baptista's 25-yard effort stinging the palms of Getafe stopper Jordi Codina.

Caballero then made a comfortable save from Jose Manuel Mane's long-range blast, before Malaga took the lead after 39 minutes.

Sergio Sanchez delivered an accurate cross to Santa Cruz and the Paraguay striker directed his header into the bottom-right corner from 12 yards.

The same player could have extended the home side's advantage on the stroke of half-time but, from the same area, fired a right-footed shot wide.

Buoyed by their end to the first period, Malaga began the second firmly on the front foot and Codina had to be alert to tip over Baptista's header 13 seconds after the restart.

However, two minutes later he was powerless to keep out Weligton's close-range header from Pedro Morales' cross.

Codina was again called into action to keep Santa Cruz from scoring a second after 58 minutes, blocking the striker's effort before, against the run of play, Getafe got one back when Valera powered a shot into the roof of the net from just inside the area.

Seven minutes later Pablo Sarabia forced Caballero to tip an effort around the post before Valera should have worked the stopper, but his header from close range missed the target.

Getafe pushed for a late leveller, but could not create another meaningful opportunity as Malaga took the points.

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