Barcelona stunned by Malaga at home in Spanish league
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Malaga stunned Barcelona with a 1-0 victory at Camp Nou on Saturday to end the hosts’ 11-game winning streak and prevent them from taking an overnight lead in the Spanish league.
Malaga struck early when Juanmi Jimenez took advantage of a collective defensive error by Dani Alves and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the seventh minute.
Coach Javi Gracia’s team had held Barcelona 0-0 in their first meeting this season, and the visitors again did well to contain a team which included Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez en route to their first win at Barcelona since the 1999-2000 season.
Real Madrid visits Elche on Sunday, looking to extend its one-point advantage at the top.
Barcelona will now focus on Tuesday’s trip to Manchester City in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Malaga’s plan of packing men in its area to stifle Barcelona’s attack and looking to hit on the break worked so well that goalkeeper Carlos Kameni’s most notable moment was actually setting up Malaga’s goal.
Messi and Neymar had combined for 24 goals during Barcelona’s winning run, but neither were able to break down Malaga’s disciplined defense. Messi was swarmed by defenders every time he tried to dribble through the middle, while his crosses from the right in seach of Neymar were cleared. Neymar, and strike partner Luis Suarez, were apparently devoid of ideas.
Kameni started the decisive counterattack with a long goal kick that led to Jimenez racing forward to score. Both Barcelona’s Dani Alves and Bravo played their part in the goal following Kameni’s goal kick. The Brazilian defender’s short back pass together with Bravo’s hesitation to leave his area to meet the pass allowed Jimenez to capitalize with the game’s only goal.
The home fans responded with a round of applause to try and lift Barcelona with 83 minutes to turn the result around. But Malaga held firm, anchored by center back Weligton, who was well placed to clear a goal-bound strike by Rafina in the 10th.
Malaga, meanwhile, remained dangerous when it surged forward, and Bravo had to twice save shots from Ricardo Horta before halftime.
Barcelona’s frustrations only grew in the second half when it was limited to substitute Pedro Rodriguez hitting the side netting as its best opportunity to level with six to play before Suarez forced Kameni into action in stoppage time.
Third-place Atletico Madrid hosts Almeria later trailing Barcelona by six points. Fourth-place Valencia first visits Cordoba, and Celta Vigo is at Deportivo La Coruna.