Barcelona maintained their unbeaten start to their La Liga campaign with a 1-0 win over bottom side Malaga on Saturday evening, courtesy of goals from Gerard Deulofeu and Andres Iniesta.
Ernesto Valverde made four changes to the side that earned a respectable draw against Atletico Madrid last weekend with Sergei Roberto, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Digne and Deulofeu replacing Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Andre Gomes in the starting line eleven.
Under pressure Malaga boss Michel opted to make four changes from the side that suffered a disappointing home defeat to Leganes with Andres Prieto, Andrian Gonzalez, Jose Mauri and Gonzalo Castro coming in for Roberto Gago, Recio, Alex Mula and Juanpi.
With just two minutes on the clock Barcelona took a controversial lead when Digne combined with Deulofeu who poked home the full backs cross, with the Malaga players appealing for a goal kick. The goal was given by the referee with replays showing that the ball did go out of play and the goal shouldn't have counted.
Iniesta then clipped a superb through ball for the onrushing Ivan Rakitic who couldn't reach the ball under pressure from Prieto. The bottom side then grew into the game when Venezuelan Alberto Penaranda let fly from distance, but saw his effort deflected behind by Mascherano.
Castro then had a great opportunity to equalise when a Juan Carlos cross found the winger but he could only flick his diving header harmlessly wide of Marc-Andre ter Stegen's far post. It was Castro who had another chance to equalise just before half time when a deep cross found him unmarked at the back post but could only miskick his chance.
The second half began with Malaga aware that they had potentially caught a lacklustre Barcelona on an off day and captain Roberto Rosales fired a speculative effort in with his weekend that Ter Stegen easily gathered. An unusually quiet Lionel Messi then had his first site of goal as he created space on the edge of the area but saw his low drive palmed away by the diving Prieto.
With the second half just over ten minutes old Barca doubled their lead when a darting Messi run resulted in the Argentine poking the ball to Iniesta who controlled the ball before drilling his left foot shot into the back of the net via a deflection of the helpless Rosales, leaving Prieto with no chance.
The Albicelestes looked deflated by the second goal and Luis Suarez was next to try his luck as he expertly spun away from Paul Bayasse before firing his chance into the side netting, as the Uruguayan's frustrating season looked to continue. Keko then tried to pull his side back into the match when his first effort hit Digne before putting his tame rebound straight into the arms of Ter Stegen.
Semedo then replaced goalscorer Deulofeu, with Roberto moving to right wing, the converted full-back then presented Suarez with a golden opportunity to score Barca's third after a strong run resulted in a low cross, with the former Liverpool man missing the target from three yards out.
Luis Hernandez then headed just wide for Malaga following a dangerous cross showing they still had signs of life left in them yet, as they threatened to find a way back into the match. Substitute Paulinho then tried to get himself on the scoresheet as he volleyed over, before the Brazilian forced Prieto into a good save.
Messi then thought he added a third for his side but saw his effort ruled out for offside in the dying moments of the game, with Barca seeing out the game, to record a laboured win and maintain their four point lead over Valencia at the top of La Liga.