This was billed as the match Malaga would kickstart their season. Fresh from the international break, the partisan crowd at La Rosaleda on Sunday night encouraged their side from the outset, boosted by the return to fitness of Luis Hernández and Juankar in defence - injuries that had left Míchel sweating over a potential defensive crisis.
They were immediately on the back foot, however, with Leganés -in a rich vein of form themselves- carving out the first opportunity of the game through former Liverpool midfielder Nabil El Zhar who unleashed an effort from outside the box, requiring concentration from Roberto who had to adjust his body quickly to prevent the ball escaping his grasp.
Diego Rolán, Malaga's only bright spark in recent weeks, had a chance of his own as he was set through on goal in the inside-left position by an intricate through ball from Juankar; his curling shot with his instep rebounded back off the far post after grazing the defender's knee on the way through.
Nordin Amrabat, making his return to La Rosaleda after completing a loan move to the Madrid side from Watford in the summer, then had a glorious chance to grab the lead but an outstretched hand from Roberto thwarted his dinked effort as he bore down on goal.
The Moroccan was at it again after the break; but this time his shot from the corner of the area was easily gathered by the keeper.
However, Roberto's resolve would soon be broken when Gabriel poked home on the goalline from what looked like an offside position to give his side the lead after 56 minutes. Malaga appealed that Gabriel was beyond the last man when Dimitris Siovas flicked on a freekick from the right, but the referee pointed back to the centre circle.
Throwing caution to the wind, Malaga committed more men forward, leaving gaps at the back - one was eventually exploited by Leganés skipper Alexander Szymanowski who was gifted the freedom of the park to burst through and beat Roberto in the one-on-one.
Things went from bad to worse for Malaga when their captain, José Recio, received his marching orders for a second yellow card.
The midfielder will miss his side's next game - a trip to the Camp Nou to take on Barcelona. Míchel's men continue to prop up the league table with just a solitary point to their name.