Evening all! Sports Mole's live La Liga coverage continues from Valencia as struggling Levante welcome European-hopefuls Malaga. Right, before we get down to the facts and figures ahead of the match, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news here...
LEVANTE: Marino; Lopez, Navarro, Ramis, Tono; Simao, Camarasa; Morales, Barral, Xumetra, Uche
MALAGA: Kameni; Rosales, Weligton, Sanchez, Boka; Recio, Camacho; Samu, Castillejo, Juanmi; Guerra
So there we have it. No Juanfran or Ruben Garcia in the Levante XI this evening, with Ivan Ramis and Kalu Uche
both starting for the hosts. There are also spots in the team for Jose Luis Morales and David Barral
. Highly-rated striker Jason, meanwhile, is named on the bench at the Ciutat de Valencia.
Malaga, meanwhile, once again have Javi Guerra leading their line. Samu Garcia, Samu Castillejo and Juanmi also start for the visitors in what appears to be a 4-2-3-1 formation. There is plenty of experience at the back, with Weligton starting at centre-back alongside Sergio Sanchez.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, both have won two of the last five matches, with the further clash ending in a draw. The reverse match at La Rosaleda ended in a 0-0 draw, but Malaga beat Levante 4-3 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey earlier this term. Levante won the home match 3-2, however, and also beat Malaga 1-0 in the corresponding league match in this stadium last season.
Truth be told, Levante are really struggling at the moment. They have won just three of their 21 league games this season, with a total of 16 points leaving them rooted to the bottom of the table. They are just two points from safety, but enter this match off the back of three straight defeats. Last time out in the league, they were beaten 2-0 at home by Athletic Bilbao, who themselves were out of form.
Levante have also won just two of their 10 home league games this season – managing just six goals. Overall, they have hit just 13 goals in their 21 league games this term, which is comfortably the worst in the league. It will not come as much of a surprise that they have also struggled down the other end, with only two teams conceding more goals than them (37) at this stage of the La Liga campaign.
Malaga, on the other hand, are having a good season. Hit by financial problems in recent years, they have responded well and have a number of talented youngsters coming through the ranks. Last Monday's 1-0 win over Valencia was their first victory in five league matches, however, with the three points moving them into seventh position in the table on 35 points.
Malaga's away form this season has also been pretty good with four wins from their 10 matches. They are currently eight points clear of eighth-place Eibar and a top-half finish would certainly be a success this season. They look a little short of the top six, who are there on merit, but a push for a Europa League place in the second part of the season is certainly a possibility for the club.
PREDICTION! I fancy Levante to take something from this match. They have really struggled this season, but Malaga have also been a little disappointing in recent weeks. For me, 1-1 draw.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. Can Levante move off the foot of the table in front of their own fans? The home side get the first 45 minutes underway.
It has been a decent start from Malaga, with Samuel threatening down the right in the opening couple of minutes. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - will be vital here.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side as Barral picks Sanchez's pocket in a wide area before driving into the Malaga box, but his final effort is high of the crossbar. Uche was waiting for the cross and the striker might have been a better option. Fast-paced start to this match.
Another half-chance for the home side as Xumetra collects a pass from Tono before attempting to find the bottom corner, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. All Levante early on here.
Levante continue to force the issue, but the referee brings a close to their latest attack after two Malaga defenders hit the deck holding their heads. The visitors have been unable to make an impact thus far. Just a reminder that victory for the hosts would move them out of the drop zone.
Xumetra has a half-chance for the home side after finding space in a wide area, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. All the opportunities have fallen to Levante thus far.
Slightly untidy period of the match in the last couple of minutes, with both sides guilty of committing a number of late challenges. Levante remain on the front foot, with Uche providing a target to hit.
Morales tries his luck for the home side, but his effort from outside the box is straight at Kameni.
Levante continue to force the issue, but their latest attack comes to a close when Xumetra is penalised for handball. Not too much to report in terms of chances, however, with Malaga still struggling. In these type of matches, the first goal is always important and that will surely be the case this evening.
Morales is again involved for the home side as he drives past two defenders before delivering, but Kameni is on hand to connect. Still nothing from Malaga in the final third of the field thus far.
CHANCE! Levante have another chance to open the scoring as Barral delivers a dangerous cross towards Uche, but the striker is beaten to the ball by Sanchez. Excellent defending from the Spaniard, who has been busy in the opening 20 minutes. Still goalless in Valencia here.
Good possession for Malaga in the last couple of minutes, with Boka involved down the left, but the hosts manage to repel the pressure. Just a reminder that Levante have only scored 13 times in the league this season and therefore you would fear for them if they fell behind in this match.
Penalty shout for Malaga as Samuel falls on the edge of the box under a challenge from Simao, but the referee is not interested. The away side have just started to warm to their task this evening.
GOAL! Levante 0-1 Malaga (Juanmi)
Malaga take the lead with 24 minutes on the clock as Juanmi fires home from a tight angle. However, the goal stemmed from terrible defending, with David Navarro having his pocket picked inside his own box. What on earth was the defender thinking there? That said, some finish from the 21-year-old.
GOAL! Levante 1-1 Malaga (Barral)
Levante level with 26 minutes on the clock as Barral fires one into the top corner following a short free kick on the edge of the box. Excellent finish from the Spaniard and we are all square in Valencia.
It took a little while for this match to get going, but it is now an end-to-end affair. Levante have managed to regain control of the ball, but the away side are a serious threat on the counter-attack.
CROSSBAR! Oh my word! Levante should be ahead as Morales delivers a super cross from the left, but Uche heads straight against the crossbar from close range. He just had to score there!
Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining and the score is still 1-1. It has been a super match, which is a nice surprise! Levante against Malaga is not really one to whet the appetite!
Levante continue to threaten from wide areas, with Morales and Barral both causing problems. However, Uche has been unable to make his mark in the opening 35 minutes. Surprisingly, there still has not been a single booking this evening despite a number of late challenges from both teams.
Levante have a penalty as Barral is pulled to the ground by Boka inside the box. It is a little harsh - the Ivorian jumped into the back of the attacker, but it is a brave decision from the referee.
GOAL! Levante 2-1 Malaga (Barral, pen)
Barral nets his second goal as he places his penalty into the bottom corner. Cool as you like!
Little over five minutes of the first period remaining and it is Levante looking for a third goal. Morales delivers another cross towards Uche, but his header drops over the crossbar for a Malaga goal-kick.
As it stands, Levante would jump three places into 17th, which is a demonstration of the closeness in the bottom half of the table. The hosts have another half-chance as Morales slips an excellent pass into Xumetra, but Boka is across to make an excellent challenge. Levante have been impressive here.
Decent pressure from Malaga in the last couple of minutes, but a cross from Juanmi is cleared and Levante have possession with 45 minutes on the clock. This first period has just flown past here.
BOOKING! Ramis (Levante) is booked for a late challenge on Guerra.
HALF-TIME: Levante 2-1 Malaga
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Levante leading 2-1 courtesy of a brace from David Barral. Juanmi sent Malaga ahead after 24 minutes, but it has been a good response from the home side, who as it stands, would move off the bottom and out of the relegation zone.
STATS! Malaga have had more of the ball with 58%, but they have managed just one shot on target - their goal. Levante, meanwhile, have had eight attempts, four of which have been on target. There has also been just one booking, with Ramis picking up a card late in the half for Levante.
BENCH WATCH! The home side have a number of attacking options on their bench this evening, with the likes of Casadesus, Garcia and Jason all in reserve. Malaga, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Amrabat, Horta and Torres. Will either manager make a change at the break?
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. Can Levante hold on for what would be a vital three points? It is the away side that get the second 45 minutes underway.
No changes from either side at the interval, which is not much of a surprise at this stage of events. However, I suspect that alterations will occur if the score remains 2-1 for the next 20, 25 minutes.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the early stages of the half, but Malaga have been on the front foot. Guerra has lacked service thus far, but the Spaniard is always capable of scoring.
Possession football from Malaga as they continue to pass and probe in the final third, while Camacho and Recio have got to grips with the midfield battle. You would have to fancy Malaga if they scored the next goal. Both managers have sent a number of subs to warm up in the last minute or two.
Ramis is called into action for the home side as the experienced centre-back challenges Juanmi following an excellent touch from the Malaga attacker. The visitors threaten from the resulting corner, but Ramis is again on hand to clear the danger. All the pressure is coming from Malaga here.
Sanchez tries his luck from outside the box, but his effort was always moving high and wide of the Levante crossbar. Amrabat, meanwhile, is preparing to enter proceedings for Malaga here.
SUB! Malaga make their first change as Amrabat replaces Guerra.
Simao takes a high one from Amrabat, which brings a stoppage, allowing Levante to regain their composure. Malaga continue to look the most likely as they break with pace and numbers.
Half-chance for Malaga as Amrabat delivers a dangerous cross towards Juanmi, but his header is straight into the arms of the goalkeeper. Levante are down the other end with Uche moments later, but the Nigerian cannot run away from two defenders and the danger is cleared once again.
BOOKING! Sanchez (Malaga) concedes a penalty and picks up a booking for hauling Xumetra to the ground inside the box. Clear penalty and a wonderful chance for Barral to score his third.
GOAL! Levante 3-1 Malaga (Barral pen, hat-trick)
Barral places his effort to the left of Kameni to send Levante into a 3-1 lead.
Levante have really struggled for goals this season, but they have scored three in one match here. Malaga are preparing to make their second change of the match, which is not a surprise.
SUB! Malaga make their second change of the match as Horta replaces Recio.
Horta bursts into life for the away side, but the midfielder is brought to the ground by Xumetra. The resulting free kick is delivered towards the far post, but Marino is on hand to collect with ease.
Xumetra remains a danger for the home side as he drives down the left before delivering towards the far post, but there are no takers. This has been arguably Levante's best performance of the season.
SUB! Change for Levante as Garcia enters the field in place of Xumetra.
Malaga are still not out of this match with little under 20 minutes remaining and bright work from Amrabat forces a corner, which is delivered towards the far post and headed clear by Ramis. Rosales delivers from the opposite side moments later, but Navarro is on hand to clear his lines.
Weligton threatens for the away side, but he climbs onto Ramis when attempting to meet a cross from Camacho. Not too much from Levante in terms of chances in the last five minutes or so.
GOAL! Levante 4-1 Malaga (Uche)
Four, yes four goals for Levante! This time it is Uche with the goal as the Nigerian converts a super cross from Tono. Malaga at sixes and sevens once again and the hosts surely secure all the points.
This is the first time that Levante have scored four goals this season, which is not much of a surprise. They entered the match bottom of the table, but they will rise into 17th with all the points here.
SUB! Malaga make their third change as Tissone replaces Castillejo.
SUB! Levante also make a change as Uche is replaced by Casadesus.
Barral comes close to scoring his fourth for the home side after finding space inside the box, but his effort deflects off Tissone and behind for a corner. Levante are in the mood for more goals here.
Little over five minutes of football remaining and the score is still 4-1 Levante. I am still finding it difficult to believe that Levante have scored four times - it is unheard of! Malaga have been really disappointing here there is no question about that. Especially after beating Valencia last time out.
Amrabat has won a couple of free kicks in dangerous positions for Malaga since entering the field, but the visitors have been unable to take advantage. Tissone delivers another set piece onto the head of Camacho, but his effort was always dropping into the arms of the Levante goalkeeper.
SUB! Levante make their third change as hat-trick hero Barral is replaced by Mari.
The home supporters are starting to make their way toward the exits, but they will be delighted with what they have seen this evening. Now Levante must build on this result in the weeks ahead.
We are into the first of three additional minutes in Valencia.
BOOKING! Camarasa (Levante) is booked for a late challenge on Tissone.
Decent pressure from Malaga in the final moments of the match, but it has come far too late. Levante break with Garcia moments later, but Sanchez is across to make a last-ditch challenge.
FULL-TIME: Levante 4-1 Malaga
So there we have it. Levante move out of the relegation zone with a 4-1 win over Malaga, who remain seventh despite the thumping defeat. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Good evening!