Sevilla’s hopes of finishing third in LaLiga were dealt a blow on Friday night with a 4-2 defeat against Malaga at La Rosaleda.
Franco Vázquez handed Sevilla the lead before Pablo Fornals drew level for the home side, with Sandro Ramirez adding a second just after half time.
Vázquez restored parity on 56 minutes before Diego Llorente headed Malaga into the lead once more, before Juan Carlos scored a fourth in the dying minutes.
The defeat leaves Sevilla fourth in the table, three points behind Atlético Madrid.
A feisty start to the game saw more fouls than chances before Vázquez had a penalty appeal waved away, earning the Argentine a yellow card in the process.
But Sevilla’s no.22 soon atoned for his error with a well-taken goal from close range to convert Wissam Ben Yedder’s pin-point cross from the right.
Sevilla’s lead would only last eight minutes however as Fornals unleashed a powerful effort from distance which left Sergio Rico with no chance, as the ball sailed into the top corner.
The game’s hot-tempered nature continued as Joaquín Correa and Ignacio Camacho clashed, with both players booked to leave Correa suspended and out of Friday’s game against Real Sociedad at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán.
Neither side made a change at half time and Ben Yedder had a strong claim for a penalty dismissed by the referee, shortly before Malaga scored a second.
Sevilla’s defence failed to clear a long punt forward and Sandro Ramirez capitalised with a driven effort that nestled into the bottom corner.
Sampaoli reacted to the setback by bringing on Vicente Iborra, but it was Vázquez who drew Sevilla level with a clever finish at the far post after Malaga had failed to clear Pablo Sarabia’s cross.
Iborra almost converted another cross from the former Real Madrid man but his header was smartly saved by Kameni at the far post.
And Malaga would punish the missed chance with a header of their own when defender Diego Llorente met Ramirez’s delivery from a free kick and directed the ball into Sergio Rico’s top right-hand corner.
Sampaoli sent on Luciano Vietto in a bid to rescue something from the game but any hope was dashed when Nico Pareja brought down Ramirez in the box to prompt the referee to point to the spot.
The forward saw his effort saved by Sergio Rico low to his right but substitute Juan Carlos scored the rebound.
The defeat leaves Sevilla with work to do in their remaining games against Sociedad, Real Madrid and Osasuna as the season comes to a close.
4. MÁLAGA CF: Kameni, Luis Muñoz, Llorente, Luis Hernández, Ricca (Miguel Torres, 72′), Camacho, Recio, Pablo Fornals, Ontiveros (Keko, 87′), Jony (Juankar, 58′) and Sandro.
2. SEVILLA FC: Sergio Rico, Pablo Sarabia, Mercado (Vietto, 84′), Nico Pareja, Lenglet, Escudero, Kranevitter (Iborra, 53′), N’Zonzi, ‘Mudo’ Vázquez, ‘Tucu’ Correa and Ben Yedder (Jovetic, 72′).
GOALS: 0-1, 30′: ‘Mudo’ Vázquez. 1-1, 37′: Pablo Fornals. 2-1, 50′: Sandro. 2-2, 57′: ‘Mudo’ Vázquez. 3-2, 76′: Llorente. 4-2, 88′: Juankar.
REFEREE: Martínez Munuera, Valencia. Yellow cards for Escudero, ‘Mudo’ Vázquez, Pablo Sarabia, Camacho, ‘Tucu’ Correa, Ricca and Iborra.