Without Messi, Barcelona held to home draw by Malaga

MADRID: Ineffective without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, Barcelona was held to a 0-0 draw against Malaga on Saturday, missing a chance to move top of the Spanish league.

Despite playing at home and with an extra player from the 68th minute, Barcelona was unable to overcome the absence of the unwell Messi and suspended Suarez, with poor finishing and a solid performance by Malaga goalkeeper Carlos Kameni.

The result left the Catalan club one point behind Real Madrid, which plays in the derby at Atletico Madrid later Saturday.

Kameni came up with several key saves throughout the match at the Camp Nou, including a spectacular one four minutes into injury time on a close-range header by Neymar.

Barcelona, which was trying to win its fifth game in a row, hadn't been held scoreless in 17 league games. The last time it failed to score at least a goal was in a 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad in April.

Malaga played with 10 men from the 68th as defender Diego Llorente was sent off for a foul on Neymar, and it also lost forward Juankar because of another red card, this time for complaining, in the last minute of stoppage time.

Carrying one of the league's best defenses, Malaga had a key chance on a counterattack in the 57th, when Juankar got past the goalkeeper but missed the open net with an angled shot.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, who played parts of the match as a striker, had a goal disallowed in the 83rd because of offside after Andre Gomes struck the crossbar with a header. Just two minutes earlier, substitute midfielder Ivan Rakitic nearly broke the deadlock for Barcelona with a header off a corner.

Messi was ruled out of Saturday's game just hours before kickoff because he "was not feeling well and had vomited," the club said.

Arda Turan was at midfield in Messi's absence.

Pique was back in action after recovering from an ankle injury, but Andres Iniesta remained sidelined because of a knee ailment.

Midtable Malaga has 16 points from 12 matches.


Sevilla scored twice in the final five minutes to rally from two goals down at Deportivo La Coruna and stay near the top of the standings.

Deportivo appeared in control after goals by Ryan Babel in the first minute and Florin Andone in the 42nd, but Sevilla got back into the game with Steven N'Zonzi's strike just before halftime at the Riazor Stadium.

Victor "Vitolo" Machin, who came into the match as a halftime substitute, equalized with a right-footed shot from inside the area in the 87th. Argentine defender Gabriel Mercado netted the winner from close range after a corner two minutes into injury time.

Coach Jorge Sampaoli rested some of Sevilla's regular starters ahead of the Champions League game against Juventus on Tuesday.

Sevilla, coming off a 2-1 home loss to Barcelona, moved to third place with 24 points.

Deportivo, enduring a five-game winless streak, has 10 points, only one outside the relegation zone.