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Played
January 22, 2012 5:00 PM GMT
Estadio La Rosaleda — Málaga
Referee:‬ Alberto Undiano‎
Attendance:‬ 28900‎
 
85′ Rondón
Messi 33′
 
 
Messi 51′
 
Messi 80′
Top of the Match
Messi
Messi
FC Barcelona
Messi
Messi
FC Barcelona
Flop of the Match
Martín Demichelis
Martín Demichelis
Malaga
Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Malaga

Malaga 1-4 Barcelona: Messi scores exquisite hat-trick and Alexis adds another as champions close gap on league leaders Real Madrid

The visitors dominated the contest with clinical finishing, putting the pressure on Jose Mourinho's side, who now only sit two points above them at the summit

By Roger Gonzalez

Alexis Sanchez y Lionel Messi - Barcelona
Alexis Sanchez y Lionel Messi - Barcelona
Barcelona cruised to a comfortable 4-1 victory over Malaga at La Rosaleda in La Liga action on Sunday as Lionel Messi stole the show with a hat-trick.

A precise header from the Argentine put the visitors ahead, before Alexis Sanchez scored early in the second half. After the interval Messi added his second with a brilliant solo effort, doing the same 10 minutes from time to help his team pull within two points of Real Madrid, who play Athletic Bilbao later on Sunday.

Despite Pep Guardiola's side's strong showing, the hosts were the more threatening side in the early going. Before 20 minutes had passed, Isco had three chances in the space of two minutes, but Victor Valdes saved each acrobatically to keep the contest scoreless.

Barca pushed forward in the ensuing minutes but could not find the crucial pass to create a clear opening on goal. That is, until Messi took control of the contest.

Iniesta played Adriano in down the left, and the Brazilian's delicate cross found the head of Messi near the penalty spot. The Fifa Ballon d'Or winner finished powerfully into the left side of the net, beating the outstretched arms of Willy Caballero.

In the second half, the visitors improved, and put the contest out of sight within minutes of the restart.

Thiago's low shot was saved from the top of the box, and Adriano picked it up, finding the young midfielder for another shot, but he was again denied by Caballero, before Alexis managed to fire home on the rebound from close range.

Moments after, Messi carved through the Malaga defence with a stellar run to the right side of the box, knocking the ball home with the deftest of touches.

Then, with 10 minutes to go, Messi drove from the middle of the pitch and calmly slotted into the right side of the net for his 22nd league goal of the season in just 19 appearances.

Salomon Rondon struck for the home side five minutes from time, beating Valdes low and to the left to give his side scant consolation, but Messi's magic was the abiding memory of the contest.

Up next, Malaga host Sevilla this coming weekend, while Barcelona return to action on Wednesday in the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, where they will host Real Madrid, holding a 2-1 advantage.


Malaga

13
Willy Caballero
Goalkeeper
3.50
2
Jesús Gámez
Defender
2.50
26
2.00
-
Joris Mathijsen
Defender
2.00
17
Monreal
Defender
3.00
18
Eliseu
Midfielder
3.00
6
Camacho
Midfielder
62′
2.00
19
Santi Cazorla
Midfielder
78′
3.00
16
Vincenzo Maresca
Midfielder
60′
2.00
23
Isco
Midfielder
3.00
22
2.00

FC Barcelona

3.50
1
3.50
22
3.00
3
Piqué
Defender
3.00
21
Adriano
Midfielder
33′ 67′
3.50
22
4.00
8
3.50
6
3.50
14
3.00
16
Busquets
Midfielder
4.00
9
4.50
10
Messi
Striker
33′ 51′ 80′

Substitutes

1
Carlos Kameni
Goalkeeper
0.00
3
Weligton
Defender
0.00
21
0.00
17
Duda
Midfielder
0.00
45
Recio
Midfielder
78′ 85′
2.50
23
Rondón
Striker
60′ 85′
3.00

Substitutes

0.00
13
0.00
5
0.00
4
Cesc Fàbregas
Midfielder
0.00
6
Xavi
Midfielder
2.50
12
3.50
7
Pedro
Striker
73′ 80′
3.00
23
Cuenca
Striker
64′

Coach/Manager

-
0.00

Coach/Manager

0.00
-
 
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Results
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
C. Ronaldo C. Ronaldo
Striker
Real Madrid
28 6
Diego Costa Diego Costa
Striker
Atl. Madrid
27 5
Messi Messi
Striker
Barcelona
25 6
Karim Benzema Karim Benzema
Striker
Real Madrid
17 0
Alexis Sánchez Alexis Sánchez
Striker
Barcelona
17 0