Madrid - Valencia battled their way to the top of the Spanish Liga on Thursday with a late 2-0 win away to lowly Malaga.
Valencia's hero was Euro 2008 top scorer David Villa, who put away both late goals.
Valencia are now level with Villarreal - 2-0 winners over Racing Santander on Wednesday - on 10 points from four games, though with a better goal difference.
"It doesn't mean much to be top now," said Villa, "because this has only just started."
However, the Spain striker did concede that "we are looking better than last season, and are getting some very good results."
Valencia have that old mean look about them again, the look of a team solid in defence and patient enough to wait for their chance on the break.
Villa's first goal came just when hapless Malaga - second from bottom with just one point - were starting to create chances.
Nineteen minutes from time young Juan Mata broke down the right and centred for Villa to break the deadlock with a brave header.
Veteran Malaga sub Salva Ballesta was sent off for an ugly foul on Edu. In injury time Villa picked his way through the flat local defence and calmly made it 2-0.
Valencia, who finished 10th last season, will stay top if they manage to beat Deportivo Coruna at home on Sunday.
One point behind Valencia and Villarreal are Madrid rivals Real and Atletico, who beat Sporting Gijon and Getafe on Wednesday.
Sevilla are in fourth place with eight points, following their 2-0 defeat of Espanyol on Wednesday.
Barcelona, 3-2 winners over Betis on Wednesday, are sixth with seven points.
In Thursday's other games, Mallorca beat Numancia 2-0, Valladolid overcame Almeria 1-0, and Athletic Bilbao battled out a 1-1 draw in Huelva. (dpa)