La Liga: Barcelona 4 Malaga 1
By Football News
La Liga champions Barcelona matched Real Madrid’s record total of 100 points with a comfortable 4-1 win over Malaga at Camp Nou on Saturday.
The record - set by Madrid last season - was equalled by Tito Vilanova’s side with another convincing win, which helped Barca finish the season 15 points ahead of their arch-rivals.
Early strikes from David Villa, Cesc Fabregas, and Martin Montoya gave Barcelona a comfortable 3-0 lead at the break, and Andres Iniesta had already put the result beyond doubt before Pedro Morales pulled one back for Malaga.
Carlos Puyol remained sidelined with a knee problem, while Lionel Messi was not risked as he continues his recovery from a hamstring strain.
Malaga defender Martin Demichelis pulled his hamstring in training and missed the game, as did midfielder Manuel Iturra and goalkeeper Carlos Kameni, who both have knee injuries.
Barcelona got off to the best possible start as Villa slotted into an empty net inside three minutes, following Pedro’s cushioned pass.
The Spain international’s 16th goal of the season could well have been his last as he is widely expected to leave Camp Nou during the transfer window.
The hosts continued to dominate the early exchanges and scored a second in the 14th minute courtesy of Fabregas, who has also been linked with a move away from the club.
The midfielder exchanged a fine one-two with Iniesta on the edge of the Malaga box, before drifting past Weligton and firing past Wilfredo Caballero.
Barca were not finished there, though, as Montaya added a third just two minutes later. The defender regained possession following a corner and drilled a fantastic 25-yard shot into the bottom corner.
Malaga tried to respond through Julio Baptista and Roque Santa Cruz, who steered a header narrowly wide of Jose Pinto’s post, but Barca continued to control proceedings.
It looked as though the home side would grab a fourth but Caballero made a fine save to keep out Iniesta’s curling effort and Fabregas’ penalty appeals were waved away after he was struck by Eliseu in the box.
Malaga eventually settled and started to create chances of their own - Baptista's powerful effort taking a crucial deflection off Gerard Pique’s leg and missing the bottom corner.
Manuel Pellegrini - in his last game as Malaga boss - also saw Isco’s rebounded effort cleared off the line by Pique.
However, Barcelona went straight back down the other end of the pitch and Iniesta curled a sublime 25-yard shot into the far corner to make it 4-0.
That also set a new club record of 115 goals in a La Liga season.
Isco almost produced an immediate response, before substitute Morales lashed a brilliant volley into the corner to reduce the deficit.
Pedro should have scored a fifth for the hosts following a great pass from Fabregas, but the Spanish winger somehow fired over the crossbar from close range.
Eric Abidal, who was diagnosed with a tumour in his liver in March 2011, came on for his final Barcelona appearance 15 minutes from time, which was met with a rapturous applause from both sides.
And Barcelona were unfortunate not to add to their tally during the closing stages as Pedro and Alexis Sanchez both went close.