It was a simple evening for Barcelona, who are closing in on the La Liga title as they swept aside bottom-placed Malaga on Saturday evening.

First half goals from a Luis Suarez header and a silky Philippe Coutinho backheel brought the required goals for the visiting side as they walked through to another three points, with talisman Lionel Messi absent after the birth of his third child.


The tone for proceedings was set early on, with the visitors displaying their strength and their unconquerable passing game on display from the whistle.

Suarez found himself close to the opener on 13 minutes when played in Paulinho, jinking and weaving from right to left to drill his shot into the stiff right hand of Roberto.

But the breakthrough followed closely behind when a pinpoint Jordi Alba cross was met by Suarez, a chance he didn’t spurn to give the visitors the lead.

Malaga v Barcelona - La Liga

The game continued vastly in favour of Barcelona with Coutinho nonchalantly flicking the ball past a caught out Roberto at his near post, after a simple pass in from Ousmane Dembele, giving the Catalans a deserved second.

Malaga midfielder Samu was given his marching orders by the referee shortly after the second goal for an out of control lunge into Alba’s ankle. The Spanish full-back, marked and shaken by the challenge, was ready to continue after some treatment.

The hosts’ best chance of the first half – of which there was few – fell to forward Youssef En-Nesyri, and after plenty of battling from Iturra to get a cross in the Morrocan striker somehow bounced his three-yard header wide of the target.

Malaga v Barcelona - La Liga

Coutinho, relishing a free creative role with no Messi in the side, was close to his second of the night when some smart interchanges saw Paulinho lay-off to his compatriot but Roberto was equal to yet another dangerous effort.

Things could have been much worse for Jose Lopez’s side had Roberto not been the star in what was another miserable day for the side bottom of La Liga.

Ernesto Valderde’s team came out happy to control and impose themselves on a despairing Malaga side in the second half, with the visitors content to take their foot off the pedal somewhat.

Dembele, who was having an impressive game, stung the gloves of Roberto on a couple more occasions but the keeper was up to the task when called upon for the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Lopez’s team were sadly showing plenty of signs of a team severely lacking in confidence at such a crucial time of the season and an inability to take their chances proved costly.

Coutinho almost capped off a great evening with his second goal, another sublime interchange with Suarez almost brought the Brazilian in for the goal but he couldn’t quite gather the ball before Roberto had charged him down.

Malaga v Barcelona - La Liga

Champions-elect Barcelona had a casual outing in which they never had to work too hard for the result, particularly with Samu’s sending off, while Malaga look certainties for relegation.

The win leaves Valverde’s side 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid, who play Celta Vigo on Sunday.


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