The defender, who missed most of his first season at Camp Nou, scored his first goal for the club to secure the Catalans’ second win in as many Liga games this campaign.
Patience was the key for Barcelona as they edged to a 1-0 Liga victory over Malaga on Saturday, with Thomas Vermaelen scoring the winner with his first goal for the club.
Javi Garcia’s side drew 0-0 with Barca on home soil last term before stunning the eventual champions with a 1-0 victory at Camp Nou back in February.
And Malaga looked set to pull off yet another impressive result against the Catalan giants in their first away fixture of the 2015-16 campaign, resisting a Barca onslaught to stay level for 73 minutes.
Barca had an early goal disallowed when Luis Suarez was penalised for a shove on his marker, before Javier Mascherano found the crossbar with a header.
Malaga did have chances of their own – most notably Juan Carlos’ optimistic long-range lob – but should probably have conceded two first-half penalties.
Fortune was shining on the visitors and Carlos Kameni pulled off a string of superb saves to keep hopes of an upset alive, but that luck ran dry when Vermaelen popped up 17 minutes from time to seal Barca’s second 1-0 win in as many matches.
Neymar returned to the first-team fold following a bout of mumps and it was Barca’s fearsome frontline that caused most problems early on, with Suarez heading home inside four minutes, only to see the effort ruled out for a push on Marcos Angeleri.
Barca continued to dominate possession, with newly crowned Uefa Best Player in Europe Lionel Messi and Neymar both making dangerous runs at the Malaga defence, but Juan Carlos almost caught the home side off guard when he sent an audacious lob just over from inside his own half
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