They dominated the game, creating several half-chances which they did not capitalise on, with Arda Turan and Rafinha seeing shots blocked and go wide of goal, while Gerard Pique was twice denied by Carlos Kameni.
However without the sick Lionel Messi and suspended Luis Suarez, the Catalans lacked the sparkle to break through and Malaga’s defensive display frustrated home supporters.
The second half started in more open fashion and Arda Turan wanted a penalty after he was caught by Federico Ricca in the box but referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea waved the appeal away.
At the other end Juankar should have scored but sent an effort inches wide after rounding Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Malaga were reduced to 10 men when Diego Llorente was sent off for a cynical hack on Neymar to stop Barcelona breaking.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on but injuries and substitutions led to eight being played. In the last of those Juankar was shown a red card for protesting, reducing Malaga to nine men but by then it was too late.