Reuters

Barcelona re-establish La Liga lead with win over Malaga

Barcelona re-establish La Liga lead with win over Malaga

21/10/2017 at 19:33Updated 21/10/2017 at 23:02

La Liga, Camp Nou - Barcelona 2 (Deulofeu 2', Iniesta 56') Malaga 0.

Barcelona eased to a 2-0 win over Malaga, restoring their four-point lead at the top of La Liga without breaking so much as a sweat.

With Real Madrid playing tomorrow, this was an opportunity for Ernesto Valverde’s side to pile more pressure on the champions, but following Valencia’s thumping win over Sevilla earlier in the day, the priority became just maintaining their lead over the chasing pack.

Gerard Deulofeu gave the hosts the lead after just 100 seconds, albeit in controversial circumstances, with the ball appearing out of play as Lucas Digne played the cross. Malaga’s players’ protests fell on deaf ears as the goal was allowed to stand.

This wasn’t a vintage Barca performance, but they made sure of the win in the second half when Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi linking up, with the former’s deflected shot finding the top corner of the visitors’ net. It was yet another routine win for the Catalans.

TALKING POINT - What's wrong with Luis Suarez?

This is a strange period in the career of Luis Suarez. There is no doubting his quality as one of the best strikers in the European game, but it's just not happening for him this season. This game saw him miss a sitter, screwing a shot wide of the post with the goal gaping. Is he missing Neymar? Or is this simply a crisis of confidence? Whatever it is, Valverde needs to find a way to get his number nine firing on all cylinders again. This will be a worry for him.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

Every so often, Iniesta serves a reminder as to why he has been so important to this Barcelona side over the past 10 years. This was one of those reminders, with the 33-year-old pulling the strings for the Catalans in midfield. Everything the hosts did well flowed through Iniesta. It’s easy to see why it has proven so difficult for Barca to replace Iniesta. They might never replace him.

PLAYER RATINGS

Barcelona - Ter Stegen 5, Rakitic 6, Busquets 6, Iniesta 8, Suarez 4, Messi 6, Mascherano 6, Deulofeu 7, Digne 6, Roberto 7, Umtiti 5. Subs - Alcacer 5, Paulinho 6, Semedo 5.

Malaga - Prieto 6, Rosales 6, Luis 5, Baysse 6, Juankar 5, Rolon 6, Adrian 5, Gontan 5, Chory 6, Penaranda 7, Rolon 6. Subs - Cecchini 5, Juanpi 5, Baston 5.

KEY MOMENTS

2’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Malaga: What a whirlwind start for Barcelona! Deulofeu has given the hosts the lead after just two minutes. But the ball was over the line when Digne cut back the cost. That's a controversial one.

56’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Malaga: Fantastic play from Barcelona unpicks the lock and the hosts have doubled their advantage! Messi slotted through the pass to Iniesta, who finds the top corner via a deflection off Rosales

75’ HOW HAS SUAREZ MISSED? That's an astonishing miss from the Barcelona striker. Roberto put the chance on a plate for him, rolling the ball across goal, but he screwed his finish wide.

KEY STATS

Malaga are the only side that Luis Suarez has failed to score against in La Liga.

Lionel Messi has been directly involved in 500 goals in 391 appearances in La Liga (360 goals and 140 assists).

Gerard Deulofeu scored his first goal for Barcelona.

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