BARCELONA - Barcelona bounced back from their painful Clásico loss in style as they cruised to a 3-0 home LaLiga win over Villarreal with a brace from Robert Lewandowski on Thursday.
Barcelona remained second in the standings on 25 points, three behind Real Madrid and three clear of third-placed Real Sociedad, who have won their last five league games and eight consecutive wins in all competitions.
Manager Xavi Hernández said he was going to shake things up and he kept his word, making five changes to the team completely outclassed in their 3-1 loss at Real Madrid on Sunday. That was another major blow to Xavi and his team who are on the verge of Champions League elimination after a 3-3 home draw with Inter Milan last week.
Teenager Ansu Fati shone for Barça 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 inside from a low cross by Jordi Alba and shook off two defenders with a subtle touch before swiveling to finish with a powerful shot.
Barcelona scored three times in seven minutes as the Polish striker increased the lead with a precise curling shot from the edge of the box to finish off a counter-attack after Pedri stole the ball close to the center circle.
TWO FOR LEWY IN FOUR MINUTES pic.twitter.com/7OiI5XjYWW— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 20, 2022
Fati, 19, scored Barça's third three minutes later, placing a close-range shot into the empty net from a low cross by Ferran Torres.
ANSU FATI MAKES IT 3-0 FOR BARCA!The composure from Ferran Torres pic.twitter.com/3A9muxnnZo
— ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) October 20, 2022
With the points secured, Barça took their foot off the gas after the break but comfortably held on to their lead.
"The most important thing is the win. The team always come first," Ansu Fati told Movistar Plus. "Of course I want to win. I'm ready, I feel good and I'm available to help the team if the coach needs me."
(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Ed Osmond)