Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini hailed the progress of his side as they booked a Champions League berth ahead of Levante and and Atletico Madrid.
Malaga finished the La Liga season on 58 points after Salomon Rondon headed the big-spending club in front from a corner against Sporting Gijon. Pellegrini, who took over midway through last season, suggested it is only the beginning of a rise to the top for the newly-rich Spanish side.
"The dressing room are delighted. We weren't content to settle for a Europa League place," Pellegrini said.
"Malaga have beaten many institutions that are much stronger than we are. We are going to start to experience many new things, and need to be prepared in many different areas. This is a five-year project."
Meanwhile, Villarreal were left to despair as they suffered final-day relegation following their 1-0 loss to Atletico. Radamel Falcao's 88th-minute winner sent the 2006 Champions League semi finalists down forthe first time in 12 years, leaving Villarreal players clearly stunned.
"It's very tough," Villarreal defender Angel told Spanish television. "Football is like this. Sometimes strange things happen. We have to try and pick ourselves up. This is football."