Malaga vs. Barcelona: Final score 0-1, Blaugrana grab 3 points despite average performance

Denis Doyle

The absences of Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets were noticeable in a less than stellar Barcelona performance, but they were still able to find one goal to defeat Malaga.

Barcelona seriously missed Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets on Sunday, but they managed to pull out a good result without them. Adriano, who started in place of Dani Alves, came up with a great goal at the end of the second half to put Barcleona ahead. Malaga had multiple chances to pull back into the game, but Victor Valdes stuffed all of them to preserve his team's 1-0 win.

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The Blaugrana controlled possession as they normally do in the first half, playing a fairly conservative game and prioritizing keeping the ball over trying to play killer balls. They still managed to generate a few chances, with Willy Caballero making some early saves. He made stops on Alexis Sanchez and Gerard Pique near the end of the first half, but he should have done better on Barcelona's goal.

Adriano scored the game's only goal in the 44th minute, hitting a strike from 25 yards to the far post. Willy looked to be in good position to make a stop, but reacted late to Adriano's shot and was beaten.

Barcelona had a number of opportunities to expand their lead, but failed to capitalize. Pique hit the crossbar off a free kick int he 58th minute, looking to contact the ball with his back as opposed to his head. In the 63rd minute, Neymar entered the game, replacing Pedro.

Neymar looked dangerous throughout his spell on the pitch -- he forced Willy into a save in the 80th minute off a free kick -- but Malaga had their best chance of the game before Neymar saw much of the ball. In the 68th minute, Victor Valdes forced Roque Santa Cruz wide, but couldn't stop the Malaga forward's cutback pass to Fabrice. The star youngster had Valdes beat, but hit the cross with his shot.

Valdes was forced into action again in the 90th minute, when he made a double save to keep Barcelona on top. Some poor marking allowed Sebastian Fernandez to get a free header, but Valdes was in the perfect place to make a stop. Five seconds later, he stuffed Fernando Tissone's follow-up, squashing Malaga's chances of stealing a point.

Malaga: Willy, Gamez, Antunes, Angeleri, Sanchez, Tissone, Camacho (Fernandez 76'), Darder, Fabrice (Morales 77'), Pawlowski (Eliseu 63'), Santa Cruz

Goals: None.

Barcelona: Valdes, Alba, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano (Alves 45'), Song, Xavi, Iniesta (Roberto 83'), Pedro (Neymar 63'), Fabregas, Sanchez

Goals: Adriano (44')

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