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La Liga: FC Barcelona 3-0 Malaga CF: Match Review

A recap of Barcelona's 3-0 La Liga win over Malaga, which was enough to move Barca back to the top of the table

David Ramos

FC Barcelona cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Malaga CF on Sunday evening at the Camp Nou to reclaim top spot in La Liga. Gerard Piqué opened the scoring for the hosts, who cantered to the win thanks to second-half goals from Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sánchez.






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After Diego Simeone masterminded Atletico Madrid to a 4-2 win over Rayo Vallecano in Sunday evening’s early kick-off, FC Barcelona kicked off against Malaga CF in third place, probably their lowest league position since the end of Pep Guardiola’s final season in charge of the Blaugrana. Certainly, it was an unfamiliar position for this side to be in; but they also knew that a win would send them back to the top of the table. With the likes of Xavi, Cesc Fàbregas and Lionel Messi all starting, Barça were favourites; could they deliver the three points?

Showing no signs of the turmoil that has claimed the headlines in the past few days, Barcelona started the match brightly and could have taken the lead within five minutes of kick-off. Cesc Fàbregas’ pinpoint through ball found the run of Alexis Sánchez, who shaped up for a cheeky lobbed attempt which beat Willy Caballero, only to rebound off the base of the far post. It was a cracking effort, and Malaga were relieved to see the ball roll away from goal.

Xavi also went close in the early stages too; Lionel Messi had done brilliantly to skip past a couple of challenges and win an awkwardly-placed free-kick, which Xavi somehow got on target, forcing a good stop from Caballero. Similarly, a free-kick at the opposite end from Duda gave Victor Valdés something to think about. It wasn’t particularly powerful, but it was swerving and threatening to find the top corner of the net, so Valdés palmed the ball around the post with a spectacular diving save.

The match was developing nicely – from a Malaga perspective, it wasn’t too open, but it was hardly as bad as Barcelona’s previous matches against Levante. Slowly, but surely, Barcelona began to create more and more chances. Lionel Messi’s measured chip again left Caballero beat, but it trickled inches wide, while Dani Alves’ lob/cross was parried by the Argentine shot-stopper.

Malaga responded by creating a chance of their own; Duda’s free-kick prowess was again causing trouble, this time it was his delivery that was causing the problems as his well-taken cross found the head of Marcos Angeleri. Valdés didn’t have much time to react but kept the ball out nonetheless with a tremendous reflex block. That livened the game up, prompting Jordi Alba to test Caballero from close range while Pedro’s fabulous headed attempt was well-blocked by the Malaga defense.

However, Malaga could not hold out forever. The pressure was mounting and eventually even the most valiant defense reaches breaking point. And it appears as though Barcelona have found the man to deliver that coup de grâce: Gerard Piqué.

Scorer of the equaliser against Levante last weekend, and now the scorer of the first goal this week; Xavi’s corner wasn’t cleared at the first attempt and fell kindly to Piqué, who as usual, kept his composure to control the ball and tuck it past Caballero. It was Piqué’s fourth goal of the season; not bad for a central defender.

Neither manager opted to make a change at the break knowing that the game was evenly-poised at 1-0. Another Barcelona goal would surely kill the match off as a contest, but a Malaga goal would of course tie the teams up at 1-1. And the visitors came close to doing just that after the restart; Antunes’ low cross was dangerous and could have created an equaliser but for a terrific intervention from Jordi Alba.

Normality was soon resumed as Alexis Sánchez and Cesc Fàbregas forced another two great saves from Caballero, before Gerard Piqué somehow rattled the post with a splendid header that left the in-form Caballero rooted to the spot.

Sergio Busquets followed up that effort with a shot of his own, also saved, before Pedro finally added a second goal. Dani Alves instigated the move with a good run, passing on responsibility to Lionel Messi who in turn found Pedro. The Spaniard cut inside one challenge and slotted the ball past Caballero into the far corner. It was a clinical finish and a deserved second for the hosts.

Malaga nearly responded in style through Duda’s audacious long-range effort, ably tipped away by Victor Valdés but Barcelona were in complete control and soon added a third goal through Alexis Sánchez. Again Lionel Messi was involved, passing to Pedro in space on the left-hand side of the area, but this time Pedro opted to pass. Sliding the ball across the six-yard box, the winger found his colleague Alexis Sánchez unmarked at the far post for an easy tap-in.

It was all too simple for the Blaugrana.

That proved to be Pedro’s final action of the night as he was replaced by hat-trick hero Cristian Tello, and Xavi was also given a rest for the final ten minutes, as Sergi Roberto got another run-out. However, the final substitution caught the eye: Ibrahim Afellay returned in a Blaugrana shirt for the first time in over a year and half, replacing Alexis Sánchez for the final few minutes of regulation.

Next up, Barcelona face Levante for the fourth and final time this season, but until then, Visca el Barça!

Roll Call Info
Total comments 281
Total commenters 22
Commenter list Anders Thomassen, BenX6, FCB4Ever, Harshiv Karia, Ian Reynolds, Kazzem, Lapulga, Luis Mazariegos, Mauste, NoImagination90, PatrickJM6, Ricardo Blonde, Richzorz, Som-i-Serem, Tokjee, Uncharted_Almo, alexreg, craig00000, dlapa, footballfordoze, paola baranzika, rnmrqz
Story URLs
# Commenter # Comments
1 NoImagination90 42
2 craig00000 38
3 alexreg 33
4 Ian Reynolds 27
5 Uncharted_Almo 26
6 Anders Thomassen 16
7 Som-i-Serem 14
8 footballfordoze 12
9 rnmrqz 12
10 Mauste 9
11 Tokjee 9
12 Richzorz 9
13 FCB4Ever 8
14 dlapa 7
15 Kazzem 5
16 Harshiv Karia 4
17 Lapulga 3
18 BenX6 2
19 PatrickJM6 2
20 Ricardo Blonde 1
21 Luis Mazariegos 1
22 paola baranzika 1

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