Málaga v Barcelona – as it happened

Lionel Messi scored once more as Barcelona cruised through what looked like a difficult away match on paper

Full time: Malaga 1-3 Barcelona

No one's beating Barcelona in this mood. Thanks for reading.

90 min+2: In the final attack of the match, Sanchez is sent through on goal, rounds the goalkeeper and shoots into the side-netting. What an inauspicious finish from Barcelona.

90 min: There will be two minutes of added time.

GOAL! Malaga 1-3 Barcelona (Buonanotte, 89 min)

There will be no clean sheet for Barcelona tonight. Buonanotte is brought down by Mascherano on the edge of the D, gets up, dusts himself down and then curls a superb left-footed free-kick up and over the wall and into the right corner. Valdes didn't move. There will be questions asked about the Barcelona goal. Oh well. This isn't the start of the comeback to end all comebacks.


88 min: Not that it really matters now but Barcelona will be 18 points ahead of Real Madrid.

85 min: Good news for Malaga! They get to play Barcelona twice more in the Copa del Rey in the next 10 days.

GOAL! Malaga 0-3 Barcelona (Thiago, 82 min)

It looks so simple. It's not simple but that's the impression it leaves. Thiago strolls in from the right, beating Iturra with a lovely twist of the hips, plays a one-two with Messi and then passes the ball into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the area with his left foot.


80 min: He's rubbish. Absolutely rubbish. With everyone waiting for the net to bulge, Messi produces an air-shot after the ball had been cut back by Alves. Someone please call Fifa and ask them to get their trophy back.

78 min: Pedro is replaced by Alexis Sanchez.

76 min: Iniesta waits, waits and waits some more before touching the ball to the overlapping Alba, whose cross flies across the face of goal but doesn't get a touch.

73 min: And for that, Fabregas is replaced by Thiago.

72 min: Fabregas almost scores a fluke as his mishit cross has to be turned over by Caballero. Even when they're bad, they're good.

71 min: "Nice way to end my The Guardian and Observer weekend," parps Sam Cooper. Hope you #ownedit.

69 min: Busquets is booked for a cynical trip on Buanonotte. Meanwhile Manuel Iturra replaces Toulalan.


68 min: The speed of passing and pressing from Barcelona is such that my eyes are struggling to follow both. It's such a blur of blue and red. It's sensational.

67 min: What if Iniesta really does have the ball on a piece of string? We should be told.

65 min: Iniesta scoops a pass over the top of the Malaga defence - they're just taking the mickey now - but Alba doesn't realise how much time he has and screws the ball across the face of goal with no support arriving. "My theory is that Messi has deliberately decided to wear different and more outlandish costumes every year so that down the line he can differentiate which Balon d'Or ceremony a picture is from," says Saurav Samaddar.

64 min: Cesc "Chopper" Fabregas is booked for a nasty challenge on Toulalan, wrapping his legs around the French midfielder's and bringing him down.

62 min: Buananotte replaces Eliseu for Malaga.

61 min: Confession: I let out a little yelp of excitement at this piece of skill from Messi. When the ball came to him on the edge of the area, he waited for a Malaga defender to commit himself and then sold him the cutest of dummies with a vicious body swerve, flicking the ball past him for good measure. But just as he went to score his second, his shot was blocked by the covering Sergio Sanchez.

60 min: Joaquin tries to thread a pass through to Eliseu, forcing Alves to stick out a boot and divert the ball behind for a corner, which comes to nothing, Mascherano clearing his lines.

59 min: A lull.

56 min: If only Malaga had Daniel Sturridge to bring on to change the game. "Messi's passing is something which is really unmentioned in comparison to his goal scoring, which is fair enough, but he can play an exquisite pass," says Harry Bronsdon. "Remind you of the Classico, 5-0. Two superb passes, like that one that one, for Villa's goals."

55 min: "I like Messi's spotty suit," says Ryan Dunne. "And Dawson's Creek. But I've also been known to google "Buy Men's Pink Leather Trousers" so caveat emptor and all that.."

54 min: This isn't Camacho's night. He's booked for hauling down Fabregas.

52 min: Messi. Dearie me. How can you do anything else but laugh?

GOAL! Malaga 0-2 Barcelona (Fabregas, 50 min)

If I had a hat, I'd take it off to them. This is sheer class. They're going to need a different award for Leo Messi because putting him up against the rest of the world in the Ballon d'Or isn't fair any more. Midway in Malaga's half, he curves a pass of the most devastating precision through to Fabregas, taking out two Malaga defenders out of the game in one fell swoop. Fabregas takes a touch, opens up his body and slides the ball with the outside of his right boot past Caballero and into the bottom-right corner.


48 min: Isco is sent sprawling by Fabregas, earning Malaga a free-kick around 30 yards from goal. It's made for the left foot of Eliseu. Unfortunately he strikes it straight into the wall and Joaquin's follow-up is also blocked.


47 min: Pedro's fantastic backheel sends Iniesta through... but he's inches offside.

46 min: Off we go again. Debate is still raging about whether Messi should have been flagged offside in the first half when Xavi set him up. The rule is so confusing.

Half time: Malaga 0-1 Barcelona

Barcelona lead at half time thanks to Lionel Messi's goal. The lesson from this half is that it's not a good idea to present Messi with open goals.

43 min: Alves curls a cross into the middle. Messi is offside. Xavi isn't. Xavi touches the ball to Messi, who is now not offside. But he is, because he was in the first phase of play. Confused? You'd better be. Basically Xavi should have shot instead of trying to Arsenal it.


40 min: Malaga must be kicking themselves. This has arguably been the perfect defensive performance, aside from the moment when one of their players passed the ball straight to Lionel Messi and he put the ball into an open goal.

38 min: "I trust you're wearing your own special suit in recognition of Mr Messi's achievements," says Simon McMahon. "Me? Well, since you ask, I've gone for Las Vegas Elvis. Jump suit, cuban heels, dark glasses, silk scarf, the lot. Messi could probably wear it and still score a hat-trick."

Sunday night is Onesie Night. Everyone knows that.

37 min: Stoke Malaga have perhaps their best chance, and it comes from a free-kick. Joaquin whips it in from the left and Santa Cruz lets the ball skim off his head - but straight at Valdes.


36 min: Now Malaga appeal for a penalty as an Eliseu cross from the left hits Pique. They want handball but it seems like a fanciful claim.

35 min: Attack, would be the obvious answer. And Malaga do that here, fashioning a shooting opportunity for Isco on the edge of the area. It's blocked by Pique. He might have done better.

34 min: Malaga are a very good side. They can hardly string two or three passes together tonight and that's not remotely a reflection on them. When this lot click, what are you realistically supposed to do?

31 min: Messi appeals for a penalty, claiming that Demichelis handled a shot from the edge of the area. No chance, it hit his thigh. Suddenly, though, Malaga are barely being allowed a single touch of the ball.

29 min: Malaga look stunned - all their good work undone by a moment of madness - and could so easily have fallen further behind here. Iniesta diddled his way inside from the left and found Fabregas in the area. He swept a shot towards the bottom-right corner but it slithered inches past the post with Caballero beaten again.

GOAL! Malaga 0-1 Barcelona (Messi, 27 min)

This is a gift of epic proportions but a sublime finish from Messi nonetheless. Camacho, under no pressure at all, has a total brain-freeze and plays a backpass straight to Messi, who was loitering about with the most sinister intent. He got there before Caballero, befuddled the goalkeeper by twisting this way and that, before stroking the ball into the vacant goal with the goalkeeper suitably humiliated.


26 min: But this effort from Iniesta gives them rather more cause for concern. Fabregas breaks down the left and pulls a ball back for Iniesta, eight yards out, to crack a shot straight at Caballero, who beats it away.

25 min: From the left side of the area, Fabregas tries to bend one into the far corner. It's high and wide though. Malaga will be relatively content if Barcelona are forced to shoot from the edge of the area.

24 min: Having said that, this Malaga defence, one of the best in Europe, is very difficult to breach. Barcelona are definitely going to have to work for this.

23 min: We haven't seen much of Isco yet. Busquets is so tight to him. It must be so depressing for talented Spaniards to play against this team - Juan Mata, for example, wouldn't be out of place in this Barcelona side but never got a kick against them last season, reduced to the role of scurrier. They make top, top players look like clodhoppers.

21 min: "I'm a big fan of your MBMs Mr. Steinberg, but I do hope you're never allowed anywhere near TV blogs on Guardian," says Jesse Wedlock. "Spooks is almost as bad as Messi's suit. Actually, the only thing that could made the show worse is if all the characters were wearing that suit."

Next you'll be slagging off Dawson's Creek.

19 min: Messi's been quiet so far. Too quiet.

17 min: Caballero speeds out of his area to reach a through-ball from Fabregas ahead of Pedro and improvises by making sure the ball hits his chest instead of his hands. Speed of mind and body.


16 min: The thing about covering Barcelona games is there are two or three-minute spells where they just keep the ball and you and the opposition end up hypnotised by it.

13 min: The nonchalance with which Iniesta produces moments of mind-bending magic is ridiculous. On the left of the Malaga area, there looks to be nothing on, but he just swerves a pass with the outside of his right boot into the middle that is just too heavy for Fabregas, who would have had a tap-in. Preposterous. How are you meant to defend that? How are you meant to do anything but sit back and admire it?

12 min: There is no doubt that Mascherano is an excellent footballer but he's still a tad suspect at the defence for my liking. He sends a header back to Valdes and is relieved to see it reach the goalkeeper milliseconds before Santa Cruz can pounce.

11 min: Malaga are having a right go. Lovely buildup from Malaga has Barcelona gasping for air again and Camacho thwacks one over the top from the edge of the area after more intelligent work from Santa Cruz.

10 min: Tactically, it's not very interesting, but it's marvellous end-to-end stuff at the moment. You attack, we attack. More please! This is very good, most pleasing on the eye.

9 min: This is a fine match so far. A low ball is fizzed into the feet of Santa Cruz on the edge of the area. He turns it behind Alba for Eliseu to chase and Valdes sprawls at his feet, just getting there in time.

7 min: An awful mistake from Weligton almost gifts Messi a goal. You don't need to make it any easier for him. There should have been no danger when Iniesta tried to poke the ball through but somehow Weligton let the ball through his legs and through to Messi, who was around six yards out. He tried to step round Caballero but the goalkeeper did magnificently to deny him.

6 min: Roque Santa Cruz is on the pitch and yet I can't see Mark Hughes anywhere. Can anyone explain?

5 min: Tiki-taka.

4 min: "What the hell would you do with four giant golden orbs anyway?" says Justin Kavanagh. "I imagine Mr. Messi mounting them on his front and back gateposts, in a Scarfacesque mansion overlooking Barcelona, maybe with a blimp flying overhead with THE WORLD IS MINE flashing in red and blue lights." You could use at least one as a giant club, clobbering people you don't like.

3 min: This is a bright start from Malaga, who are setting about Barcelona at a rare old pace. We'll see how long this lasts though. I fancy: not very. But still, this has all the makings of a very entertaining match.

2 min: Messi hasn't scored yet. You have to ask whether the Ballon d'Or has gone to his head.

Peep! No, Barcelona are wearing their normal home kit. At least it's not their retina-assaulting away kit. Result. Malaga are in their blue and white stripes, like Argentina, presumably to make Messi pass to them. Anyway they get the game going, attacking from right to left in the first half.

Here come the teams. They'll be playing football soon! Hopefully Barcelona's players will all be playing in Messi's Special Jacket tonight.

"I've figured out what his suit reminds me of," says Ben List. "One of those motion capture suits actors wear for animated films. Maybe Messi accepting awards will be included in FIFA 14 and he was killing two birds with one awful suit."

"Forever behind the times I am just finishing up the series "MI-5"(apparently called "Spooks" over there but you couldn't use that here
as it can be a bad word)," says JR in Illinois. "Was that show popular in England? Anyway, I'm really going to miss the American characters on the show because they were almost invariably played by obviously British people and their accents were absurdly egregious (or "risible" as you might say over there). I always wondered why they just didn't get Americans to play the American parts. I suppose it may be a difficult thing for you to notice so I just thought I'd tell you. Also, I didn't think Messi's jacket was bad but it's been looking like I'm in the minority on that."

I liked Spooks. It was good. There, insight.

"Am I the only who actually liked Messi's suit?" asks Sam Cooper. "It added something different and allowed more comparisons to Maradona which I'm sure he loves."

Look at him! I mean really.

Anyway, La Liga. Is it the best league in the world? Does anyone really care? Well, to answer the first question, the World XI last week was fairly conclusive in Spain's favour, though I do think it was slightly off that no Chelsea player made it into the team. The case for including at least Petr Cech or Didier Drogba is a strong one. No Juventus or Italy players is hard to justify too.


Lionel Messi has a problem and not just in the sartorial department. Honestly, that suit he wore to his big night on Monday made him look like a barmitzvah boy who'd been allowed to design it himself by parents now sorely regretting their decision. But anyway, his problem: Messi's problem is that he's become so good that whenever he does something incredible on the football pitch, it's almost reached the point where we're shrugging our shoulders, so often does it happen? He's spoilt us. Beat five men and chip the keeper? Yeah, seen it before. Score five goals in one match? Score six, you underachiever.

Of course it's our problem, not his. You wouldn't get tired of eating steak from The Hawksmoor for every meal, or get bored if you spent your day watching Larry David trying to work out if someone's telling him a lie. It's all part of the Messi magic. After he won his fourth Golden Ballon in a row on Monday, even he wondered if 2012 was really his best year. But here's the thing: even if he didn't win the title or the Champions League, he scored 91 goals, some of them the most gorgeous you could ever wish to see. Making the genius seem mundane? Only a genius could manage that.

The Spanish press have billed tonight's game as the Golden Boy versus The Golden Ball. Isco versus Messi. Perhaps they're guilty of a bit of hype here, because Messi is going to be backed up by Xaviesta, Cesc Fabregas, Jordi Alba and many more but the excitement is understandable. Malaga have rarely had it this good and Isco, the best player in a very good team, is going to be a star. The 20-year-old midfielder has got it and so do Malaga, who are flying high in both Spain and the Champions League. Manuel Pellegrini's side will certainly give Barcelona a good game tonight. The only problem is that when Barcelona came to the Rosaleda last season, they left with the points thanks to an absurd hat-trick from Messi. It tends not to matter how well-laid your plans are when he's on the pitch.

Malaga: Willy; Sergio Sánchez, Demichelis, Weligton, Monreal; Isco, Camacho, Toulalan, Eliseu; Joaquín; Santa Cruz. Subs: Kameni, Saviola, Seba Fernandez, Iturra, Portillo, Buonanotte, Onyewu.

Barcelona: Valdés; Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Fábregas; Pedro, Messi, Iniesta. Subs: Pinto, Puyol, Adriano, Song, Thiago, Sanchez, Tello.

Kick-off: 8pm.


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