Xavi hails 'extraordinary' Lewandowski after double leads to convincing win for Barcelona

Other goals from Pedri and Roberto seal 4-0 La Liga victory over Real Valladolid at Camp Nou

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Barcelona manager Xavi hailed "extraordinary" Robert Lewandowski after the Polish striker scored twice in the 4-0 La Liga victory over Real Valladolid on Sunday evening.

A typical poacher's finish from Lewandowski on 24 minutes set Barcelona on their way at Camp Nou before teenage midfielder Pedri added a second just before half time.

Lewandowski, 34, struck again just past the hour to make it four goals in three matches since his high-profile summer arrival from Bayern Munich, with Sergi Roberto netting late on.

Barca climb up to third in the table on seven points from three matches, two behind leaders Real Madrid and second-placed Real Betis.

“Lewandowski is a natural goalscorer, but he also helps us a lot in defence,” Xavi said. “We all know what Lewandowski can do. He’s a striker of the highest calibre. He is an extraordinary player, a natural leader and a born worker. He is an example for the squad.

“Lewandowski is adaptable. He helps his colleagues and even helps us as the technical staff. It’s great to have him with us. Apart from the goals, I want to highlight Lewandowski’s timing. He has the ball and protects it often.”

Xavi handed Jules Kounde his first start after Barcelona were finally able to register the France defender, signed from Sevilla last month for a reported €50 million ($49.8m).

After a goalless draw on the opening weekend, Barca put four past Real Sociedad last time out, and the Catalans began in similar fashion with Lewandowski going close with an early header. He met an in-swinging delivery from Raphinha, but his glancing effort struck the post and rebounded off Valladolid goalkeeper Jordi Masip before trickling along the line to safety.

Pedri then spotted the run of Raphinha in behind but the Brazilian was thwarted by Masip, who was well beaten moments later when Ousmane Dembele's venomous shot clipped the crossbar.

Barca's pressure finally told as Raphinha whipped in another teasing cross, sowing confusion in the Valladolid defence which a gambling Lewandowski punished by stabbing home.

A marauding Dembele tested Masip from range, and then created the second for Pedri by rolling a perfectly-weighted ball for the midfielder to bury with a first-time side-foot finish.

Lewandowski all but put the game beyond reach on 64 minutes, running onto a pass from Dembele and cleverly backheeling past Masip with the help of a deflection off Joaquin Fernandez.

Valladolid nearly pulled one back but Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved well from Oscar Plano and Kounde stuck out a leg on the line to keep out the follow-up effort from Roque Mesa.

Ansu Fati forced a sharp stop from Masip after coming off the bench, but Barca grabbed a fourth in stoppage time as Roberto volleyed home after Lewandowski was denied a hat-trick after Masip tipped his shot onto the bar.

Xavi said he was very pleased with Kounde's debut, and believes the 23-year-old Frenchman will play an important role at Barcelona for many years.

“When we talk about Kounde, we’re speaking about a player that can mark an era at Barca," Xavi said. "He can do everything: play out from the back, has personality, leadership, can play in any defensive position. We’ve made a great signing.”

Villarreal dropped their first points of the season in a 0-0 draw at Getafe as Unai Emery's side saw the award of a penalty overturned following a VAR review in the dying stages.

Updated: August 29, 2022, 4:54 AM
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