Javi Marquez's stunning early strike continued Espanyol`s perfect home record as struggling Malaga, with new coach Manuel Pellegrini watching on from the stands, slumped to their seventh defeat in 10 games this season.
Marquez smashed home a superb 30-yard drive in the opening minute and that proved to be the only goal of the game as high-flying Espanyol made it five wins out of five at their Cornella El Prat home.
For third-bottom Malaga the result leaves them with just one point from their last six games and plenty of work to do for Pellegrini to turn things round.
The former Real Madrid and Villarreal boss was unveiled yesterday as the replacement for Jesualdo Ferreira, who was sacked earlier this week just months into a three-year contract following a poor start to the season.
Second team coach Rafa Gil, who was put in interim charge following Ferreira`s dismissal, sat on the bench for tonight`s game as Pellegrini took a viewing brief but neither man could inspire Malaga to end their dismal run.
The Andalusian side could hardly have had a worse start, falling behind with the first effort of the match from Marquez, whose blistering left-footed shot was too good for Malaga goalkeeper Francesc Arnau.
Buoyed by that early goal, Espanyol dominated the opening half hour and rained in shots on the Malaga goal through Jose Callejon (twice), Osvaldo (twice) and Martinez again.
At that stage it looked set to be a humiliating night for Malaga, but they fought back and should really have drawn level before the break but Eliseu Pereira and Nabil Baha spurned great openings.
Malaga continued to push for an equaliser in the second half and Sebastian Fernandez saw his 53rd minute thunderbolt parried by Espanyol goalkeeper Carlos Kameni before Fernandez put a corner over from close range soon after.
The visitors also struck the crossbar five minutes from time through substitute Quincy Owusu-Abeyie`s powerful 25 yard drive, but ultimately it was not to be for the Andalusian side as Espanyol provisionally climbed up to fourth.