VAR calls mar Barca victory

More calls for video assistant referees (VAR) marred Barcelona's 2-0 victory over Malaga in La Liga on Saturday.

See how the second half at Camp Nou unfolded with Football Espana’s liveblog!

Pablo Gonzalez refereed Barca for the first time but marked the occasion with a shocking decision to give them the lead against Malaga, who struggled to get back up from the blow.

Ernesto Valverde commented before the game that he would rotate his squad, with a Copa del Rey trip to Real Murcia on Tuesday, but Gerard Pique was the only significant player to be benched.

Lucas Digne kept his place at left-back as Jordi Alba remained sidelined, while Sergi Roberto again beat off competition from Nelson Semedo and Aleix Vidal on the other flank.

However, Denis Suarez was still only a substitute, despite being the Catalans’ joint-top scoring midfielder, allowing Gerard Deulofeu to continue on the left wing.

It was top versus bottom at Camp Nou, with Barca having won seven of their opening eight games in La Liga and Malaga losing as many, although the Andalusians were the only side the Blaugrana failed to beat in the League last season.

Yet any prospect of another upset was killed off in just the second minute as Lucas Digne was clearly out of play when he played a cross to Gerard Deulofeu, only for the referee to sanction the winger’s tap-in.

Barca saw out the remainder of the first half as if it were a training match, although Chory Castro nearly gave them a rude awakening, had he directed his header on target from a couple of yards out.

Malaga came back out with a bit more positivity, but Messi suddenly ran across their defence, before angling a low strike on target, which Prieto blocked from close range.

Iniesta then scored his first Liga goal in two years, receiving Messi’s through ball and looping finish over Prieto via Roberto Rosales, although Luis Suarez sliced his finish wide from close range after a delightful turn to get away from his marker.

Suarez’s poor run in front of goal culminated when Sergi Roberto got in behind down the left and put the ball on a silver platter for the No 9 at the far post, but he couldn’t hit the target from a yard out.

Former Leicester City man Luis Hernandez, meanwhile, met a corner and powered a header towards goal, with Ter Stegen flailing, but it whistled just wide.

Paulinho injected life back into the match with his introduction, and he forced Prieto into tipping his low curler around the post as Barca stayed four points clear at the top of La Liga.

Barcelona 2-0 Malaga

Deulofeu 2, Iniesta 56

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Digne, Mascherano, Umtiti, Sergi Roberto; Rakitic, Busquets (Paulinho 76), Iniesta; Messi, Suarez (Alcacer 83), Deulofeu (Semedo 72)

Malaga: Andres Prieto; Rosales, Luis Suarez, Baysse, Juankar; Keko, Rolon (Cecchini 68), Adrian, Chory; Penaranda (Baston 72), Rolan (Juanpi 46)

Referee: Gonzalez Fuentes