Atletico Madrid’s dramatic, late equaliser against Real Madrid blew the title race open Barcelona had the chance to go level on points with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga. The Catalan giants traveled to La Rosaleda Stadium to face a Malaga side that have only won once in their last seven games.
It was a tactical affair in the opening exchanges but Jordi Alba unlocked the Malaga defense with a a wonderful, lofted pass to Suarez who, after bringing the ball down well, was denied fantastically by Carlos Kameni.
Neymar then received a comical yellow card after tying his boot laces directly in front of a Malaga freekick which, despite his protests, was seen as a deliberate attempt to stop a quick set piece.
The away side were punished for their complacency in the 30th minute as Malaga opened the scoring. Mathieu attempted to play offside but when a long ball was played over the top to Sandro Ramirez, the Spaniard was onside and raced through to coolly beat Ter Stegen at his near post.
Barcelona have been behind at half-time on three occasions this season and on each have gone on to lose. It was perhaps more important than ever that this run didn’t continue tonight, as they looked to fight for the title. Whereas Malaga seemed comfortable and now had a lead to defend going into the second half.
Malaga were pressing well and when Fornals stole the ball on the halfway line, the home side were away. Sandro found himself in space but opted to square the ball for Juanpi who had the goal at his mercy, but fired the ball straight at Ter Stegen.
The away side’s night took a disastrous turn in the 65th minute after Neymar’s late challenge was enough to earn himself a second yellow card and see his side down to ten men.
Malaga capped off a wonderful performance with a second goal in the 90th minute. Yet another counter attack saw Fornals through on goal and he pulled the ball back for Jony who composed himself before stroking the ball into an unguarded net to send the home fans into a frenzy.
This defeat for Barcelona could determine the title race and it leaves Luis Enrique’s side three points adrift of Real Madrid who have a game in hand. For Malaga, any fears of relegation are sinking away, as they climb to 14th, eleven points above the relegation zone.