A game with plenty on the line, Manuel Pellegrini's men boosted their Champions League prospects with a dominant performance at homeA strong performance at La Rosaleda from Malaga saw them defeat 10-man Racing Santander 3-0 on Monday night, moving them into third place in La Liga and increasing their chances of Champions League qualification.
The game was always in the hands of the hosts, with Francisco Perez's early dismissal playing into their hands. From the subsequent penalty, Santi Cazorla may have been denied, but he would strike later in the match, with his strike sandwiched by efforts from Isco and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
After just two minutes, a vitally-important match turned into a nightmare for the visitors. Perez was shown a red card for taking down Salomon Rondon in the box with a pull of the arm, giving Malaga a penalty kick. Santi Cazorla was charged with the responsibility, drilling a shot to the left side of the goal, but Mario Cuesta dove quickly to knock the ball wide with a fierce punch.
Five minutes later, Enzo Maresca hit the left post with a powerful long-range effort that had the goalkeeper beaten.
In the ensuing minutes, the visiting custodian continued his fine form, denying Rondon and several others as the hosts bombarded the away goal with shot after shot.
The breakthrough finally came on 21 minutes, when Isco, who received a ball from Nacho Monreal at the left side of the box, curled a bullet shot into the right side of the goal.
The consistent attacking threat would continue, but Racing managed to enter the break down only 1-0.
In the second half, Mario was taken off with an injury, and Malaga soon nearly found their second. After five players wrestled for the ball at the front post, it ended up at Cazorla's feet five yards out, but the former Villarreal man's effort was cleared off the line by Domingo Sisma.
With just over 25 minutes remaining, the hosts finally went up 2-0. After a great cut from Isco down the left wing, the former Valencia man passed to Maresca at the top of the box. He then delivered a low ball into the heart of the box that found Cazorla, who finished calmly into the right side of the goal.
The home side got their third seven minutes from time thanks to substitute Ruud Van Nistelrooy. The Dutchman bagged his fourth goal of the season with a simple header from inside of the box off a well-placed cross from Duda.
Malaga, who now have a one-point lead over Los Che, will return to action on Thursday at Villarreal, while Racing will fight for their league lives when they host Mallorca on the same day.