BARCELONA: Barcelona bounced back from its painful El Clasico loss in style on Thursday as it cruised to a 3-0 home La Liga win over Villarreal with a brace from Robert Lewandowski.
Barcelona remained second in the standings on 25 points, three behind topper Real Madrid and three clear of the third-placed Real Sociedad, which has won its last five league games. Manager Xavi Hernandez had said that he was going to shake things up and he kept his word, making five changes to the team outclassed in the 1-3 loss at Real Madrid on Sunday.
“The changes are not to point fingers at anybody,” Xavi told a news conference. “On Sunday (against Athletic Bilbao), I will make more changes. I want all players to be ready and 100% when the opportunity comes. We need intensity and will.”
Teenager Ansu Fati shone for Barcelona on Thursday as he created three great early chances before Lewandowski opened the scoring in the 31st minute. The Polish striker controlled the ball brilliantly after a low cross by Jordi Alba and shook off two defenders with a subtle touch before swivelling to finish with a powerful shot.
Barcelona scored three times in seven minutes as Lewandowski increased the lead to two with a precise curling shot from the edge of the box. He finished off a counter-attack after Pedri stole the ball close to the centre circle.
Lewandowski has scored 11 goals in 10 La Liga matches this season and is the league’s top scorer, four goals ahead of his nearest rival. Fati, 19, scored Barcelona’s third in the 38th minute, placing a close-range shot into an empty net after a low cross by Ferran Torres.
With the points secured, Barcelona took its foot off the gas after the break but comfortably held on to its three-goal advantage.
RESULT: Barcelona 3 (Lewandowski 31 & 35, A Fati 38) bt Villarreal 0