Barcelona, Dec 12: Malaga salvaged a 1-1 home draw against Osasuna on Sunday to maintain its place among Spain's Europa League contenders.
Malaga created more scoring chances throughout at La Rosaleda stadium, with former Osasuna defender Nacho Monreal coming close in the 32nd with a volley that hit the post.
Osasuna forward Ibrahima Balde grabbed the opener a minute later when he pounced on a loose ball inside the six-yard box.
Malaga pressed forward after halftime, and substitute Juanmi Jimenez strode in unmarked at the far post to convert Sergio Sanchez's cross in the 70th to split the points.
The draw kept Malaga in sixth place, behind Sevilla on goal difference, and two points ahead of Osasuna.
“Today, we took an important step toward believing that we are going to be in the top part of the standings come season's end,” said Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini, whose club spent around ¤60 million ($80 dollars) on transfers in the offseason with the goal of competing in Europe next year.
Earlier, struggling Sporting Gijon won 3-1 at Rayo Vallecano, and 10-man Real Sociedad drew 1-1 at Villarreal to extend its unbeaten run to four games.
Sporting striker David Barral was quick to slot in a poor clearance by the Rayo defense to score his sixth goal of the season 10 minutes in.
Former Rangers forward Nacho Novo then put the result beyond doubt with a pair of goals in the 37th and the 67th as Sporting got its first win in three games.
“We were able to put the fear in Rayo,” Sporting coach Manolo Preciado said. “We knew that we could hurt Rayo with our speed and we succeeded in doing so.”
Miguel “Michu” Perez scored a consolation goal in added time for Rayo, which has lost four straight games after a solid start to the season.
At El Madrigal stadium, Villarreal was the better team in the first half, but Sociedad held firm in defense before going ahead through Mikel Aranburu's 52nd-minute goal.
The Basque midfielder received the ball on the left flank, cut back across the defense and fired the ball into the right side of the net.
Sociedad was left with 10 men from the 62nd when Gorka Elustondo received his second booking.
Striker Marco Ruben tapped in substitute Joselu Moreno's cross to equalize for Villarreal in the 72nd.
Also, defender Alvaro Gonzalez's stoppage-time header snatched Racing Santander a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao, keeping his team undefeated in two games since the departure of coach Hector Cuper.
Getafe remained undefeated in its last six home games as it edged Granada 1-0 thanks to Javier Casquero's 78th-minute blast from outside the area.
Mallorca got its first away win of the season as it beat last-place Zaragoza 1-0 through Victor Casadesus' first-half goal.
Atletico Madrid faced Espanyol away in Sunday's late game.
Barcelona overcame an early goal to beat Real Madrid 3-1 on Saturday to move top of the table. Barcelona is ahead of its fierce rival on goal difference, although Madrid has a game in hand.
Also, Levante edged Sevilla 1-0 to pull to within one-point of third-place Valencia, which lost 2-1 at Real Betis after two stoppage-time goals by Ruben Castro.