Relentless striker Robert Lewandowski bounced twice as Barcelona beat 10-man Elche 3-0 to clear a point at the top of La Liga on Saturday. The Polish forward has continued his sensational form since joining Bayern Munich this summer, scoring 11 goals in eight appearances in all competitions. With Real Madrid, which claimed a 100 percent record after five matches, visited Atlético Madrid in Sunday night’s capital derby clash, it was a chance for Barcelona to temporarily depose their rivals for the first time this season. , and he took it.
“We will sleep as leaders for the first time in two years,” said Barca coach Xavi Hernandez. “We’ve done our homework and got three points. We’re on a good track.”
Xavi rotated into midfield after a Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich on Tuesday, with Frankie de Jong and Frank Casey stepping in, while Memphis Depay was given a rare start in the attack.
Elche at the bottom of the table made the job much easier for the hosts when Gonzalo Verdu smacked Lewandowski down as he burst to goal after 14 minutes and was swiftly dismissed.
Lewandowski, who topped the division’s scoring charts with eight goals, was uncharacteristically deflated against his former club, but he did not extend that leniency to the visitors at Camp Nou.
Barcelona seized the opportunities and Lewandowski essentially broke the deadlock after 34 minutes.
Pedri set up Alejanardo Balde to the left and the young defender easily padded a ball into the net in the six-yard box for the veteran striker.
“We knew he would score and make a difference, but his personal side surprised me,” Xavi said.
“He has great humility, commitment, appetite. He is very hardworking.”
Memphis doubled the lead with a sharp individual turn and powerful strike that stunned Edgar Badia, and Pedri added a third shortly before half-time but was denied offside.
Barcelona had to wait only three seconds and half a minute, with Lewandowski pouncing on a loose ball in the box and medically ending the game too far from Elche’s reach.
Francisco Rodriguez’s side was dropped at the bottom of La Liga at one point, following Cádiz’s late win over Real Valladolid on Friday night, and never looked like Xavi’s turning it up against sparkling Barca.
Badia refused to save Lewandowski just fine from his hat-trick and the striker partially fired on the bar before being replaced by Ferran Torres, who was already under his spell to an ovation from home supporters .
Not long after he replaced Lewandowski, his name kept ringing around the stadium. At the forward, Barcelona finally have a player to replace Lionel Messi’s goal contribution and help him compete for the title again, which he last won in 2019.
Lewandowski’s arrival and the club’s summer signing spree have given supporters a reason to look again, as testified by an 85,000-strong crowd compared to last season’s sluggish attendance.
“The enthusiasm of the fans is visible, in the stadium, in the streets, you have to maintain this hope and belief,” Xavi said.
“The people are connected, the support of Barcelona is more alive than ever.”
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