Barcelona got back to winning ways in La Liga as three quickfire goals in a seven minute period in the first-half saw Xavi’s side record a comfortable 3-0 victory over Villarreal at the Camp Nou.
Going into the match, Blaugrana were six points behind league leaders Real Madrid and knew they could not afford to slip up against a Villarreal team who beat them last season in their own backyard.
Despite the visitors’ predictable gameplan of sitting back, Barcelona were the ones to strike first right on the half-hour mark. Pedri’s through pass down the left found Jordi Alba, whose cross into the box was brilliantly controlled and finished by Robert Lewandowski inside the penalty area.
The Polish striker had his second of the night and 11th league goal of the season just three minutes later, as he drilled a superb low strike into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.
Barcelona’s seven-minute triple salvo was complete in the 38th minute, as Ansu Fati made amends for a miss from inside the six-yard box just seconds earlier which hit the bottom of the post to tap home the rebound past a scrambling Geronimo Rulli.
The pace of the game dropped considerably in the second half as both sides opted to conserve energy with the result no longer in any doubt, as Barcelona made it four home wins in succession in La Liga.
TALKING POINT – BARCELONA BOUNCE BACK AFTER A TOUGH WEEK
After a tough week for Xavi which saw Barcelona draw 3-3 with Inter Milan in the Champions League – a result that all but ended their chances of progressing out of their group – in addition to a disappointing 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday, Barcelona have responded in the perfect way tonight.
Villarreal, who expertly dispatched La Blaugrana when they played them at the Camp Nou last season, tried to execute a similar game plan this time around, which was to sit back and absorb the pressure off the ball, whilst trying to pick off Barcelona on the counter attack when they could.
Despite some flashes of that plan almost working for Unai Emery’s side in the early exchanges, Barcelona saw their quality shine through, and a fantastic seven minute period in the first-half – which produced three quick fire goals – ended up deciding the match.
Xavi will be relieved that a little less pressure will be on his shoulders as his side now have two tough games coming up. The first is against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday – which will see former Barca coach Ernesto Valverde return to the Camp Nou dugout for the first time since his sacking back in 2020. That is followed by the big one against Bayern Munich next week in the Champions League.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI
The 34-year-old produced two moments of brilliance to contribute once more to another Barcelona victory, as he took his tally for the season to 16 goals in all competitions.
Despite his age, Lewandowski continues to deliver on the biggest stage and remains one of the world’s best forwards. The pick of his goals was his second, as he buried a ferocious long-range effort from the edge of the penalty area into the bottom corner.
In total, the Pole won two aerial duels, made one key pass and had three shots on target.
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6, Roberto 7, Kounde 7, Alonso 7, Alba 8, Gavi 7, de Jong 8, Pedri 8, F. Torres 7, Fati 8, Lewandowski 8. Subs: Bellerin 6, Pique 6, Busquets 6, Dembele 6, Raphinha 6.
Villarreal CF: Rulli 6, Pedraza 6, P. Torres 6, Albiol 5, Femenia 6, Baena 6, Morlanes 6, Parejo 6, Pino 6, Danjuma 6, Jackson 5. Subs: Morales 6, Moreno 6, Trigueros 6, Mojica 6, Mandi 6.
31’ – GOAL! (Robert Lewandowski) – Barcelona score! A brilliant through ball from Pedri takes out two Villarreal players before finding Alba on the left flank. He sends a cross into the penalty area for Lewandowski, who has his back to goal, but brilliantly controls it to swivel past two more Yellow shirts in the penalty area before placing it past Rulli. Superb.
35’ – GOAL! (Robert Lewandowski) – Two goals in three minutes by Lewandowski! What a player. Gavi picks up the ball in the centre of the pitch on the counter attack as Pedri pinches it off Parejo seconds before. The midfielder then plays the ball to the Polish striker to his left at the edge of the penalty area. He opts to cut inside onto his right foot and drills a superb strike into the bottom corner past Rulli from 18 yards out!
38’ – GOAL! (Ansu Fati) – It is a slightly fortunate goal but Barcelona will not care! Ferran is picked out on the right, before he cuts inside into the box on his left foot, shimmying his way past Femenia with ease in the process. He then cuts it back for Fati in the six-yard box, but his effort – which is not cleanly struck – comes back off the post. Rulli cannot react in time as Fati gets the rebound into the net with a deft backheel flick!
71′ – CHANCE! – Villarreal have a big chance to score! Parejo stands over a free-kick from 30-yards out right of centre, and clips a ball towards the back post from the set-piece. Baena out jumps Kounde and gets his head onto the ball inside the penalty area, but his headed effort goes just over the bar!
85′ – JUST WIDE! – Dembele finds Pedri in loads of space outside the penalty area, and he drills a low shot from 25-yards out which flies just past the far post!