Malaga now hold the advantage over Panathinaikos in their Champions League qualifying battle, after a convincing first leg 2-0 win at home.
This was the first leg of the team’s two-game tie with Panathinaikos to decide a place in the group stages of the competition, where Malaga have never played before.
Malaga started the brightest and, even if they were generally wasteful from set-play, they eventually took the lead via a corner midway through the first half.
Weligton headed a deep cross towards goal, where his fellow centre-back Demichelis sneaked in to knock the ball into the net from three yards out.
The home side slightly eased off the tempo after that to allow their opponents more time on the ball, but there was little goal-mouth action in the subsequent passages of play.
It was then 2-0 to the home side as Eliseu cropped up unmarked in the penalty area to confidently finish off a cross from Isco, after the young Spaniard’s clever footwork and one-two with Enzo Maresca down the left.
Fabrice did well to make space in the area five minutes later and to pick out Eliseu, but the winger’s shot at goal was scooped up by the goalkeeper. Maresca then tested the 'keeper from distance, shortly before the break.
Panathinaikos provided a quick warning at the start of the second period, as Ibrahim Sissoko’s in-swinging cross from the right almost saw Kostas Katsouranis latch on to it from 12 yards out.
However, the first clear chance fell to the Anchovies soon after, as Isco, Fabrice and Joaquin Sanchez led a three-on-two counter-attack, but Isco’s curled effort was deflected wide. Maresca saw his glanced header from the subsequent corner also deflected just wide into the side-netting.
The home side looked to threaten for a third and again went close from a set-piece, as Jeremy Toulalan saw his deflected shot bounce back to him, before pulling a second effort just wide of the right post.
Fabrice almost found the third with an audacious effort, as he met a low cross with the in-step of his right foot, but his improvised effort was inches wide of the near post.
The Greeks worked well on the hour mark to slide 14 through for a quick chance, but Willy Caballero was equal to his effort from 15 yards out. Clever work from Sissoko two minutes later found Charis Mavrias with a chance at a strike, but his shot was pulled high over the bar.
Isco then ran past two defenders to make space centrally for a shot, but his left-footed effort was dragged wide.
Sissoko then slid through substitute Toche for the visitors’ clearest chance midway through the second half, but Caballaro was quick off his line to thwart the striker’s side-footed attempt.
The visitors threatened with a stoppage-time free-kick, but two men were ruled offside in a nervy moment for the home side.
However, the final whistle soon went, ensuring that Malaga go into the second leg without having conceded an away goal.
Malaga 2-0 Panathinaikos
Scorers: Demichelis 17, (M) Eliseu 34 (M)
Malaga: Caballero; Gamez, Demichelis, Weligton, Monreal; Toulalan, Maresca (Camacho 70); Joaquin, Isco, Eliseu (Duda 78); Fabrice (Buonanotte 70)
Panathinaikos: Karnezis; Spyropoulos, Velazquez, Boumsong (Pinto 64), Vyntra; Vitolo, Zeca (Lazaros 39), Sissoko, Katsouranis, Mavrias; Fornaroli (Toche 69)
Ref: Chapron (FRA)