Madrid : Saturday saw Espanyol and Real Sociedad show their credentials to be amongst the top teams in the Spanish football league, with efficient home wins.
Espanyol beat lowly Malaga 1-0, Sociedad downed Racing Santander by the same score.
Espanyol - who have won all five of their home matches - are now fourth, with 18 points from 10 games, two points less than third-placed Villarreal.
Espanyol are one point above fifth-placed Valencia and two above Real Sociedad, who are sixth.
Midfielder Javi Marquez scored for Espanyol in the very first minute, with an impudent long-range left-foot shot that took Malaga keeper Francesc Arnau by surprise.
Espanyol should have added to their lead in the first half. Malaga came out of their shell after the break and came close to equalizing on three occasions.
Arnau said that `we could have got at least a draw today, because we did well towards the end and created several good chances.`
It was the first game on the Malaga bench for Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini, who took over from Jesualdo Ferreira Thursday. The southerners are third from bottom and have conceded 22 goals, the highest total in La Liga.
Earlier Saturday, Real Sociedad had beaten dull Santander 1-0.
The only goal in Anoeta came after just seven minutes, when veteran Sociedad`s striker Joseba Llorente raced on to a pass from Xabi Prieto and beat Santander keeper Tono with a low drive.
The impressive hosts should have won by a greater margin but were let down by some poor finishing, particularly from French youngster Antoine Griezmann, who would become an interesting prospect if he could keep calm in front of goal.
Sociedad coach Martin Lasarte said that `we are playing with a lot of solidarity and self-confidence at the moment.`
Leaders Real Madrid are at home to local rivals Atletico, while second-placed Barcelona are away to Getafe Sunday.