MADRID - Barcelona put a stressful week off the field after the resignation of club president Sandro Rosell behind them to move back to the top of La Liga with a 3-0 win over Malaga yesterday.
With new president Josep Maria Bartomeu watching on from the directors' box, Gerard Pique swept home the opener from Xavi's corner five minutes before half-time.
Pedro Rodriguez then made the game safe with a neat turn and finish from Lionel Messi's pass 10 minutes after the restart.
Alexis Sanchez slotted home the third moments later from Pedro's cross for his 12th goal of the season.
However, it was to be another frustrating evening for Messi in front of goal as his La Liga goal drought stretched to eight games.
Atletico Madrid remain level on 54 points with the Catalans after a 4-2 victory at Rayo Vallecano earlier yeasterday with both sides a point ahead of third-placed Real Madrid.
Atletico kept up the pressure on Barca with a comfortable win of their own at struggling Rayo.
David Villa put the visitors in front after just eight minutes with his 11th goal of the season, but Diego Simeone's men were thankful to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois moments later as he saved Jonathan Viera's penalty.
Arda Turan doubled Atletico's advantage at the end of a fine team move involving Diego Costa and Jose Sosa before Viera's deflected strike had briefly given Rayo hope.
The visitors restored their two-goal cushion before half-time, though, as Turan slotted home Gabi's free-kick from a tight angle at the back post.
Saul Niguez's then put through his own net under pressure from Costa to make it 4-1 before Joaquin Larrivey's headed consolation rounded off the scoring.