Lewandowski scores twice as Barcelona beat Villarreal

Barcelona recovered from theirs classic Losing to Real Madrid in style as they headed a brace from Robert Lewandowski to a 3-0 home LaLiga win over Villarreal on Thursday.

Xavi Hernandez’s side stayed second on 25 points, three behind Real Madrid and three ahead of third-placed Real Sociedad.

Barcelona scored three goals in seven minutes of the first half, starting with Lewandowski’s strike from the penalty area in the 31st minute.

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The Polish striker extended the lead four minutes later with a precise curl from the edge of the box to end a counterattack after Pedri stole the ball from an opponent near the center circle.

Ansu Fati scored Barca’s third goal three minutes later when he fired a close-range shot into the empty net after a low cross from Ferran Torres.

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Fast reaction

1. Lewandowski, Barcelona react to the recent results

A difficult week had increased the pressure on Barcelona. A draw against Internazionale on October 12 left them on the brink of Champions League elimination, followed by a disheartening Clasico defeat by Real Madrid on Sunday. However, Barca found a much-needed answer in front of just over 70,000 spectators at the Camp Nou against Villarreal on Thursday.

Three goals in seven first-half minutes proved enough to quell the gloomy mood that had dogged the team for the past week, prompting coach Xavi Hernandez to admit he could be out of a job if he does this season doesn’t win a trophy. Robert Lewandowski scored the first two goals to take his tally to 16 for the season. The touch and spin for his first goal was matched by the finish for his second just four minutes later. Ansu added the third.

From that point on, Barca seemed like a confident team again. Frenkie de Jong played great at the base of midfield, Pedri filtered passes between the lines and should Villarreal threaten to counterattack, Jules Kounde’s quick recovery pace meant they were unsuccessful. The victory means Barca move within three points of leaders Madrid, Sunday’s Clasico defeat is still their only defeat in 10 league games this season.

2. Ansu, Torres fire up Raphinha and Dembele

When the big games are over this season, Xavi has opted for Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha to flank Lewandowski. However, after a disappointing week, he turned his attention to young Spanish strikers Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres, who struggled for the consolation goal off the bench against Madrid at the weekend.

They’ve teamed up again here to add Barca’s third. Torres showed brilliant footwork to create a tap-in for Ansu, albeit the second time he asked. It was his third league goal of the season, the same amount Dembele and Raphinha managed together – and in a lot more playing time.

It presents a nice quandary for Xavi. Ansu and Ferran tend to offer more control and both like to get into central positions. Dembele and Raphinha are more natural wingers and might suit an end-to-end game. It’s also good news for Spain coach Luis Enrique, who may have been worried about Ansu’s and Torres’ missing minutes earlier in the season.

3. With a heavy heart, Villarreal hinders the game

Unai Emery’s side would never win at the Camp Nou but the way they collapsed in the first half will have alarmed their manager. As of Thursday, they had conceded just three goals in nine league games. In seven chaotic minutes of the first half they conceded three more here, their low block dismantled.

The defeat was insignificant more broadly, however, after Villarreal confirmed the death of vice-president Jose Manuel Llaneza earlier in the day. That affected their preparation for the game. A home game against Almeria on Sunday is a good opportunity to pay tribute to Llaneza and regain form.


Player Ratings

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6; Roberto 6, Kounde 7, Alonso 6, Alba 7; De Jong 8, Gavi 7, Pedri 7; Torres 7, Lewandowski 8, Ansu 7
Subtitle: Busquets 6, Bellerin 6, Raphinha 6, Dembele 6, Pique 6

villa real: Ruli 5; 6 Kiko, 5 Albiol, 5 Torres, 5 Pedraza; Pino 6, Parejo 6, Morlanes 5, Baena 5; Danjuma 5, Jackson 5
Subtitle: Mojica 6, Morlanes 6, Trigueros 6, Moreno 6, Mandi 6


Best and worst performers

BEST: Frenkie de Jong, Barcelona.

Lewandowski would be the easy option but De Jong deserves credit. There has been debate over whether he can succeed Sergio Busquets as Barca’s defensive midfielder and he has shown here that he can operate well behind Pedri and Gavi. He intercepted, propelled the ball forward and completed 95% of his passes. Camp Nou sang his name as he was picked up for a breather.

WORST: Arnaut Danjuma, Villarreal.

You can choose Villarreal players. The defense shut down in the first half but while conceding three goals, Arnaut Danjuma looked out of place. The forward scored a brace in Monday’s win against Osasuna, returning from injury but struggling at the Camp Nou. Emery agreed and picked him up at the break.


Highlights and notable moments

Ahead of the game, a trio of Barcelona stars – Lewandowski, Alexia Putellas and Gavi – show off their awards, which they received at the 2022 Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris on Monday.

Putellas made history by winning the Ballon d’Or Feminin for the second consecutive year, becoming the first woman to win the award twice since its inception in 2018. Gavi won the Kopa Trophy, the award for the best player under the age of 21. Lewandowski won the Gerd Müller Prize for the best striker of the year.

Also before kick-off, both sides paid tribute to Villarreal vice-president Jose Manuel Llaneza, whose death was announced before the game.

Llaneza had been with the club since 1994 and had served in a variety of capacities.


After the game: what the managers, players said

Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez on the result: “I think we played really well. We had to react and we had to expect a performance in a big game. It wasn’t an easy day after the Bernabeu defeat and the draw with Inter. There are high hopes for this team, it will be much expected.” We improved and showed character, good intensity, good in defense and especially in attack.”

Villarreal’s Unai Emery on Llaneza’s death: “Jose Manuel started this project before the Roig family took over. I wanted to dedicate a win to his family but it wasn’t to be. It’s been two really intense years for me with him and messages like this always affect you. Now we have to think about Sunday.”

Villarreal’s Manu Trigueros on Llaneza: “We struggled to adapt after what happened, the death of Llaneza. When we play in stadiums like this, it’s thanks to his work. He’s been phenomenal for this club. We found out earlier at dinner, and it was a big blow. He was really close and always by our side. The club has grown with him.”


Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

– With his two goals tonight (11 now in LaLiga), Lewandowski has 601 goals for club and country.

– Only Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (56.3) has a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Lewandowski among players who have played at least 500 minutes in Europe’s top five leagues this season.


Next

Barcelona: Another LaLiga home game, this time with Athletic Club at the Camp Nou. Then back to the Champions League as Lewandowski returns to Bayern Munich for the first time since leaving this summer.

villa real: At home against promoted Almeria.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/spanish-laliga/story/4777023/robert-lewandowskibarcelona-bounce-back-from-clasico-loss-with-win-over-villarreal Lewandowski scores twice as Barcelona beat Villarreal

Emma Bowman

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