2017-2018 Spanish Primera División
  • Gerard Deulofeu (2')
  • Andrés Iniesta (56')

Controversial goal helps Barcelona see off Malaga

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barcelona maintained their four-point lead at the top of LaLiga with a 2-0 win over bottom club Malaga at the Nou Camp, where Gerard Deulofeu's early goal should have been ruled out.

Second-placed Valencia had closed the gap by thumping Sevilla 4-0 at the Mestalla, but Barca never looked likely to slip up in Saturday's evening kick-off -- although the hosts did benefit from a touch of good fortune with their opening goal inside two minutes.

Lucas Digne weaved into the left side of the Malaga penalty area, but his touch from a rebound off a defender took the ball over the byline and out of play before he crossed into the six-yard box where Deulofeu flicked the ball in for his first Barcelona goal.

Despite the angry protest of the Malaga players, referee Pablo Gonzalez Fuertes was not moved and ran back towards the centre-circle.

Andres Iniesta doubled Barcelona's advantage on 56 minutes as Malaga's winless run stretched to nine matches.

After their fortuitous start, Barcelona threatened again on 12 minutes after a quick exchange between Iniesta and Lionel Messi saw the Argentina playmaker release Digne, whose cross was blocked.

Malaga, who had so far amassed just one point, threatened when Juan Carlos swung the ball in only for Gonzalo Castro to head wide.

The visitors created another opening just before the interval, this time the delivery coming across goal from the left, but Castro missed his kick at the far post as the ball spun out for a throw.

Malaga started the second half brightly, with Roberto Rosales firing his shot straight at Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

It was not long, though, before Barcelona stepped things up again as Messi's angled drive forced a good save from Andres Prieto.

The Malaga goalkeeper, however, could do little as the hosts swept into a 2-0 lead on 56 minutes.

Javier Mascherano played the ball in to Messi, who took it in his stride before laying a pass out to Iniesta on the overlap down the left, and his shot flew into the top corner, with a slight deflection off the unfortunate Rosales.

Malaga's luck appeared to be out again on 66 minutes when a fierce shot from Sergio Keko looked to have hit Digne's hand before cannoning up into his face, but nothing was given.

Luis Suarez should have scored a third with 15 minutes left, but dragged a close-range shot wide after being picked out by Sergi Roberto.

At the other end, Luis Hernandez saw his header drift just past the post.

Suarez, who has netted just three goals so far this season, trudged off down the tunnel when he was replaced for the closing stages by Paco Alcacer.

Messi saw a late header ruled out for offside in the build-up, but it mattered little as Barcelona coasted to a comfortable victory.

Spanish Primera División Standings

1 Barcelona 25 +33 55
2 Real Madrid 25 +29 53
3 Atletico Madrid 25 +10 43
4 Sevilla FC 25 +9 43
5 Getafe 25 +11 42
6 Real Sociedad 24 +11 40
7 Villarreal 25 +8 38
8 Valencia 25 -2 38
9 Granada 25 +1 36
10 Levante 25 -5 32
11 Athletic Bilbao 25 +2 31
12 Osasuna 25 -4 31
13 Real Betis 25 -5 30
14 Alavés 25 -8 30
15 Real Valladolid 25 -6 29
16 Eibar 24 -15 24
17 Celta Vigo 25 -12 24
18 Mallorca 25 -16 22
19 Leganes 25 -19 19
20 Espanyol 25 -22 19