Raphinha scored his first league goal to help Barcelona brush a winless Sevilla aside as Xavi’s side claimed their third straight La Liga win.
The 25-year-old opened his account with a poacher’s finish in the first half before fellow new signing Robert Lewandowski doubled Barcelona’s lead before half-time with his fifth goal already for the club. Eric Garcia added a third after the restart to add to Sevilla’s woes.
Both teams started the game in contrasting form, Sevilla taking just a draw from their opening three matches and Barcelona having garnered seven points from a possible nine.
The hosts made an encouraging start and time and time again were getting in behind Barca’s defence. They would have been ahead only for Ronald Araujo, who was in the right place at the right time to scramble Ivan Rakitic’s goal bound shot off the line. There was also a golden opportunity for Youssef En Nesyri, who couldn’t beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen when through on goal.
With Sevilla committing so many bodies forward, the hosts were caught cold on the counter-attack, as Ousmane Dembele released Lewandowski. His clipped shot was stopped by the head of Fernando, but Raphinha was ready to pounce and headed in his first La Liga goal.
Julen Lopetegui’s side were clearly shell-shocked, and their pain was compounded as Barcelona, now in total control, doubled their lead nine minutes before the break when Lewandowski latched onto Jules Kounde’s raking pass, controlled on his chest and volleyed it past the helpless Yassine Bounou.
Kounde and Dembele had further chances on the stroke of half-time before Eric Garcia finally got Barcelona’s third five minutes after the restart with a simple tap in.
It could have got even worse for Sevilla only for Bounou, who got a fingertip to Lewandowski’s chipped effort and Jose Angel Carmona blocked substitute Frenkie de Jong’s shot on the line.
Victory moves Barcelona into second with 10 points, two behind the early pacesetters Real Madrid. Sevilla are 17th.
TALKING POINT – PROMISING SIGNS FOR BARCELONA, AS SEVILLA CONTINUE TO FALL APART
If it was doubt before, it shouldn’t be now: Barcelona are officially back. If last season was a transitional process, it seems that the Catalans are now ready to challenge on all fronts once more.
Solid and organised in defence, Xavi’s new-look side have also proven to be ruthless in attack with 11 goals in four games, conceding only once. It has taken Lewandowski little time to settle in, and with Raphinha now amongst the goals, we can expect the Brazil international to only get better. Crucially, they can now also boast strength in depth demonstrated by the fact that the likes of De Jong, Ferran Tores and Andreas Christensen all started on the bench.
While there were shades of vintage-Barca in how they controlled the game, moved the ball and the number of chances they created, there appears to be big problems at Sevilla. In total contrast to their illustrious opponents, they look vulnerable in defence and toothless in attack, but more worryingly a soft underbelly has been exposed, and they were whistled off the pitch by their supporters. One point from a possible 12 is their worst start to a season in four decades.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – GAVI (BARCELONA)
Worked himself into the ground, covering an unbelievable distance as evidenced by the cramp he picked up in the later stages. Dictated the tempo in midfield with his calm presence and outstanding range of passing.
Sevilla: Bono 7, Montiel 5, Gudelj 5, Nianzou 5, Acuna 5, Fernando 5, Jordan 5, Rakitic 6, Lamela 5, Isco 6, En-Nesyri 5.. subs: Dolberg 5, Suso 5, Delaney 5, Gomez 5, Carmona 6.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 7, Araujo 7, Kounde 8, Garcia 8, Balde 7, Gavi 9*, Busquets 7, Pedri 8, Dembele 8, Lewandowski 8, Raphinha 8.. subs: Fati N/A, Torres 6, Alba 5, Roberto 5, De Jong 6.
5’ – CLEARED OFF THE LINE! A real scramble! Isco plays Rakitic through on goal and the Croatia international tries to lift it over Ter Stegen, but Araujo is in the right place at the right time to clear off the line. A let-off for Barca!
19 – EN NESYRI… NO! Incredible vision from Isco and he has the technique to execute as he threads a throughball into the path of En Nesyri, who has just Ter Stegen to beat… he tries to curl it around the Barca goalkeeper but he’s able to turn it around the post. The offside flag then goes up but replays show he was onside and the goal would have stood. What an opportunity!
21’ – GOAL! SEVILLA 0-1 BARCELONA (RAPHINHA): A first goal in La Liga for Raphinha as Barcelona take the lead on the counter-attack! The ball is won in midfield by Gavi and he feeds Dembele, who embarks on a lung-busting solo run. His weighted pass is accepted by Lewandowski, his chipped effort is cleared off the line by Fernando but Raphinha is waiting to pounce, heading in on the rebound.
36’ – GOAL! SEVILLA 0-2 BARCELONA (ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI): Sevilla are falling apart now! An expert finish from Lewandowski doubles Barca’s lead! The Poland international is left all alone as the Sevilla defence is caught napping. He controls Kounde’s raking ball on the chest before composing himself and volleying it past the hapless Bono.
50’ – GOAL! SEVILLA 0-3 BARCELONA (ERIC GARCIA): That should be this game done and dusted! Raphinha delivers a corner to Kounde, he knocks it back across goal and it’s a simple finish for Garcia!