Barcelona’s 11-game winning run was snapped by a resilient Malaga, who claimed their first win at the Camp Nou since 1999.
Juanmi pounced on an early Dani Alves error to score the match-winner and deny the home team a chance to go top of the La Liga for the first time in over three months, as leaders Real Madrid now have a chance to surge clear at the top against Elche on Sunday.
Barca huffed and puffed at goal with Rafinha and the returning Andres Iniesta failing to account for their first-half chances.
Malaga’s grid-locked defence held firm in the second half despite a late Barca surge, holding on to a surprise win in Andalucía much to the delight of both Madrid clubs.
The match heralded ten crunch days for Luiz Enrique’s men, who next face a Champions League last-16 first leg tie at Manchester City before the semi-final of the Copa del Rey.
The Asturian boss tweaked his squad ahead of a busy scheduled but could not help as his side conceded after just seven minutes.
Alves’ poor back pass to second-choice Claudio Bravo was intercepted by Juanmi, who rounded the goalkeeper before prodding home.
Barca almost drew level two minutes later, but Wellington blocked Rafinha’s goal-bound effort.
The hosts continued to hold on to the ball, but the visitors never bought into their trick and, even threatened to double their lead on two quick occasions just after the half-hour mark.
Iniesta, fresh from recovering from flu, sent his tame header straight at Carlos Kameni five minutes before the break.
Barca continued to dominate play well into the second half but searched in vain for a breakthrough, with the impressive Wellington and Roberto Rosales proving a fortress in Malaga’s defence.
Neymar and Messi tried rescuing the home team by forcing coach Jarvi Garcia’s side into their own half, but decisions in the final-third fell short of accuracy.
Substitute Pedro sent Barca’s best chance into the side netting, as coach Enrique’s side were left ruing wasted opportunities ahead of their crucial trip to the Etihad Stadium.
For Malaga, who claimed a 0-0 draw at the La Rosaleda in the reverse fixture in September, it was a dream win- especially without their suspended Spanish midfielder Ignacio Camacho- enough to keep them in touching distance of Europe qualification.