Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski ended his goalscoring barren spell with a goal to rescue the Spanish champions to a 2-1 win over Alaves in La Liga on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Villarreal 3-1 and Ivan Rakitic grabbed Sevilla’s 1-1 home draw against Real Betis in a pulsating Sevilla derby.
Samu Omorodion put Alaves in front in the first minute against a formidable Barcelona side, but Lewandowski’s second-half double rescued the hosts with three points.
The win keeps Barcelona within touching distance of leaders Girona, who are four points clear, and second-placed Real Madrid, who have a two-point advantage, after both won on Saturday.
Veteran striker Lewandowski scored a superb header early in the second half and slotted home the penalty in the 77th minute to take his league goals to seven.
Catalonia are on a drought and Lewandowski has also endured, with the striker in his worst run of form in over a decade, having failed to score in six appearances before.
Barcelona have also had their own miserable run of performances, which Xavi said was because the players are nervous, especially the younger ones, because of the intense media criticism.
“We were more tense than normal because of all the noise created around the team,” Xavi told reporters after Barca’s return.
“It happened to me as a player and it happens to my players.”
Before the game, Xavi said the team was not in crisis despite the recent Clasico defeat and a stumble against Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek, and that it was up to him to pull them out of the slump.
However, it took just 18 seconds for Alaves to strike.
Ilkay Gundogan lost the ball in midfield and with Barcelona’s defense in complete disarray, Javi Lopez crossed for Omorodyon, who slotted through the legs of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
“We can’t make these mistakes, it’s unacceptable,” Xavi said.
“We give too much and that’s big.”
Barcelona fell apart easily on several occasions in the first half, with Alaves-bound Omorodion, on loan from Atletico and just 19, repeatedly getting the better of Jules Conte.
Xavi switched the French centre-back to right-back midway through the first half after the striker had slotted past Kute and hit the crossbar.
Omorodion fired wide one-on-one with Ter Stegen on another occasion and Alaves could easily have scored three more goals.
The fans booed the Barca players at the break and they responded, equalizing early in the second half.
Kunde crossed from the right and Lewandowski curled a superb header beyond Sivera’s reach and into the net.
Barcelona grabbed the win when substitute Ferran Torres was clumsily brought down in the area by Abdel Ambar and Lewandowski smashed the penalty into the roof of the net.
An inspired Antoine Griezmann helped Atletico Madrid come from behind to beat Villarreal.
The French forward scored his 300th strike for club and country in the victory that keeps Atletico fourth, two points behind champions Barca.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone signed a new deal this week until 2027 and was able to celebrate in style after Gerard Moreno put Villarreal in front early on at the Metropolitano.
Axel Witsel, set up by Griezmann, equalized before the break and the Frenchman pounced to turn the game on its head after 80 minutes.
Substitute Samuel Lino wrapped up a 17th home win in all competitions five minutes later, further punishing 14th-placed, managerless Villarreal, who sacked Pacheta this week.
“I know that Antoine will go down in the history of the club, for sure, because of the number of goals he has scored and that we hope he will continue to score,” said Simeone, praising his key player.
Griezmann said he was delighted Simeone had signed a new contract and would also like to commit to his future at the club.
“For sure his turn will come,” the coach told Movistar.
“The club is working to keep growing and Griezmann is very important now and in the future.”
Seventh-placed Betis took the lead against Sevilla through Ayoze Perez in the 72nd minute as the visitors looked to pile on the misery for their struggling opponents.
Diego Alonso’s side have not won in La Liga since September, with five draws in a row.
However, Rakitic earned them a point on this occasion with a superb strike from outside the area to keep his side in mid-table.
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