Another day to forget for Malaga. "We didn't start playing until the third goal went in," admitted head coach José González following a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Espanyol on Sunday afternoon. "I felt ashamed at many points during the game and I would like to apologise to the fans."
The damage was done in the opening half an hour when the visitors failed to stand up to their hosts who were stronger, both physically and mentally, all over the pitch.
Espanyol were ahead after just eight minutes when Gerard Moreno breached a suicidal offside trap inside the area to chip the ball over keeper Andrés Prieto with time even allowing him to add the final touch just in front of the goalline.
Malaga could have had an equaliser soon after when Maxime Lestienne whipped in a freekick from the left, but Diego Rolán's near-post header glanced the post.
The Costa side, though, were quickly back on the back foot and after Léo Baptistão broke into acres of space down the right, his measured cross found Sergio García who showed much greater desire than Roberto Rosales to prod home his side's second.
It was three less than four minutes later when Sergio García easy outmuscled Luis Hernández on the edge of the box before threading the ball through to Baptistão whose shot across Prieto found the bottom corner.
Very much against the run of play, Malaga found a way back into the game in the 38th minute when the ball bounced up onto Naldo's hand inside the penalty area. Adrián made no mistake from the spot, smashing it to the left, sending Diego López the wrong way.
Despite their lead, the hosts didn't relent in the second half and their forward trio, already on the scoresheet, continued to threaten on every break.
The closest Malaga came to grabbing a second came through Youssef En-Nesyri; the young Moroccan's header from Rosales' cross drifted wide.
The Catalan side's dominance was confirmed with a quarter of an hour to go when Rosales clumsily bundled substitute Pablo Piatti to the ground and the Argentinian dusted himself off before converting the penalty with aplomb.
Positives for the visitors were few and far between, but the debut of youngster Alberto López, who came on at left-back at the break, gave some reasons to be cheerful. López may be called up again on Saturday in the final game of the season against Getafe after both Rosales and Ignasi Miquel were ruled out after both picking up their fifth bookings of the season.