Levante celebrated being back in La Liga with a narrow 1-0 victory against regional rival Villarreal on Tuesday (AEST), while Malaga fell 1-0 at home to Eibar.
The hosts stuck largely to the same line-up that secured promotion to La Liga, while injury-plagued Villarreal saw their tactics dictated by who was available.
Levante started aggressively in front of 20,000 fans at Ciutat de Valencia stadium, with Jose Luis Morales forcing a stop from visiting goalkeeper Andres Fernandez within the first minute of play.
After spending the early stages penned up in their own end, Villarreal threatened when Antonio Rukavina released Carlos Bacca with a deep ball, though the ensuing shot deflected harmlessly off a Levante defender.
The second half featured plenty of offensive action, but little in the way of real chances until the 80th minute, when Morales was again thwarted by Fernandez.
Levante continued to press, however, and a desperate Rukavina brought down Morales in the area with two minutes left in regulation.
Morales stepped to the line and converted to give his side the win.
In Tuesday's (AEST) other La Liga contest, Malaga fell 1-0 at home to Eibar and to make matters worse for the crowd of 28,000 at La Rosaleda, the goal scorer was Charles, who racked up 15 goals in 56 appearances during his two-year stint with the home team.
The visitors were dominant from the start of the second half and took a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute with Charles' header.
Malaga showed more ambition from that point on, yet the payoff never materialised.