Malaga 1-3 Barcelona: Bojan & Afellay on target as Barca prepare for Champions League final with a win
Fernandez opening goal for the hosts provoked the Blaugrana into a response with Bojan, Afellay & Bartra all scoring to complete the win
By Patrick Devaney
Barcelona wrapped up their domestic league campaign with a comfortable 3-1 win against Malaga. Despite falling behind on the half hour mark to Fernandez’s strike, Bojan, Afellay and Bartra were able to rescue the three points for the Blaugrana to ensure their Primera Division defeats were kept to just two for the entire season.
The match opened at a snail's pace with neither side committing men forward and looking content with finding their own rhythms. Malaga were the team who began to test the goalkeeper frequently but Pinto was fortunate to not face any troubling strikes which may have worried him.
As the Catalans lacked cohesion up front, they were banking on moments of individual brilliance to grab a goal as Jeffren almost conjured up the opener midway through the first half. His venomous strike rose inches over the bar as Willy Caballero in the home side’s goal was reminded of his need to be always alert.
But it was Manuel Pellegrini’s men broke the deadlock thanks to Seba Fernandez in the 30th minute. Patient build-up by the Andalucians was rewarded as the Uruguayan striker converted Juanmi’s cushioned lay-off to give the hosts the lead.
Despite lacking their usual fluency and aura going forward, the Blaugrana were able to equalise in the 43rd minute. The tricky Bojan was felled inside the box and he duly converted the spot-kick with ease, rolling the ball into the bottom left corner.
As the half-time whistle blew, temperatures were high heading into the dressing room after the penalty but both coaches would surely have been disappointed with their men’s attempts so far.
Pep Guardiola’s men emerged from the break looking a rejuvenated outfit but they were continually frustrated by the opposition rearguard, the highlight of which saw Jeffren hitting the side-netting from a tight angle.
With their first attack of the second half, though, the home side nearly regained the advantage but Maresca headed wastefully wide from six yards after Apono delivered an inch perfect cross.
From that play, the hosts look to have turned the screw on the champions but their relentless search of a second goal almost saw them concede. Seconds after defending a Malaga corner, Barcelona should’ve went ahead but Afellay’s effort was saved well by Willy, who raced off his line.
Barcelona finally claimed their second goal of the game in the 76th minute through Afellay. The Dutchman proved more clinical on this occasion as he cut inside and curled a low shot into the far post to complete the comeback for the Catalans.
Youngster Bartra added a third goal in the 83rd minute to wrap up the win with a header directly from Dani Alves’ precise corner.
Barcelona saw out the victory to finish their league campaign on 96 points as they now prepare to complete a double next Saturday when they take on Manchester United in the Champions League final. Malaga ended their season’s affairs in ninth place for the moment until the last few matches finish up in the Primera Division.
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- Own Goal
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