Gerard Deulofeu, Andres Iniesta Fire Barcelona to La Liga Win over Malaga

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 21:  Gerard Deulofeu (R) of Barcelona celebrates with Lionel Messi of Barcelona after scoring the first goal during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Malaga at Camp Nou on October 21, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by fotopress/Getty Images)
fotopress/Getty Images

La Liga leaders Barcelona beat bottom side Malaga 2-0 at the Camp Nou on Saturday, preserving their four-point lead at the top of the table. 

Gerard Deulofeu got Barca on their way inside two minutes with his first goal for the club, but it was an opener laced with controversy. That's because the ball clearly went out of play prior to the winger neatly tucking away Lucas Digne’s cross.

The home side failed to add to their tally before the interval, with Malaga performing to a level far exceeding their league position. But Andres Iniesta made the game safe with a second after the restart.

Valencia kept the pressure up on the Blaugrana with a 4-0 win over Sevilla earlier in the day. Real Madrid, now eight points back on their great rivals, host Eibar on Sunday.

Given Malaga’s poor form an early goal for Barca was no surprise. It was a strike of massive contention, though.

After two minutes Digne dug out a cross on the left flank that was turned in by Deulofeu. As Barcelona celebrated, the Malaga players were furious with the referee; this image from Lucas Navarette showed why:

Meanwhile, journalist Jason Pettigrove commented on the fortune the Blaugrana have been getting early in the 2017-18 campaign:

After falling behind, Malaga did well to establish themselves in the contest and looked lively up top through Diego Rolan. Barcelona, meanwhile, were finding clear-cut chances tough to conjure.

Before half-time the best chances actually fell to the bottom club. Chory Castro was on the end of both of them, though he skewed a header wide and then failed to turn a cross towards goal from close range.

Messi was marshalled well by Malaga in the main.
Messi was marshalled well by Malaga in the main.Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Aside from a few flurries from Lionel Messi, the Barca attack was looking a little dull as the referee called time on the first period. The home side had managed just one shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

As noted by journalist Rafael Hernandez, in an uneventful half the error that led to Deulofeu’s goal was the major talking point:

In the second half, there was more pop to Barca’s passing, as they found Messi in dangerous positions. Unsurprisingly he was involved in the Blaugrana’s second.

Messi killed a sharp pass from Javier Mascherano, turned and played in Iniesta at the end of a driving run. The veteran midfielder’s shot flicked off Roberto Rosales and into the top corner. Per Rik Sharma, the legendary playmaker doesn’t tend to get on the scoresheet too often:

While it had been nothing like a vintage Barcelona display, they were now in complete control of what had been an otherwise even game.

Iniesta fired in a second for Barca.
Iniesta fired in a second for Barca.Alex Caparros/Getty Images

With the shackles off, some more openings did come for the hosts. And after a wonderful surge from Sergi Roberto, Luis Suarez should have tapped home from six yards. Somehow, the former Liverpool man scuffed his shot wide.

It was a howler from the Barca No. 9; as noted by Agence France-Presse’s Kieran Canning, Suarez, who was replaced and unhappy shortly after the miss, has been in rotten form:

The tempo of the game slowed in the latter stages, with Barcelona content to keep possession and Malaga's players evidently growing weary before the final whistle.

Barca manager Ernesto Valverde may be concerned with certain aspects of the team's display in this one, especially the ongoing issue of Suarez's form. But with eight wins and one draw from their first nine La Liga games, the new boss will be delighted with the team's start to 2017-18 overall.

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