'World class' Lewandowski on target as Barcelona beat Mallorca to move top of La Liga

Polish striker scores ninth goal of the season to help Barca edge past Mallorca at Son Moix

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Xavi Hernandez described Robert Lewandowski as "maybe the best striker in the world" after the Pole extended his prolific start to life at Barcelona with the only goal in Saturday's win at Mallorca.

Lewandowski, who joined Barca from Bayern Munich in the summer, became the first player to score in six consecutive La Liga weeks since Ruud van Nistelrooy with Real Madrid in the 2006-07 season when he struck in the 20th minute at Son Moix.

It was the Pole's ninth goal of the season, and eighth in the league. No player has scored eight goals in his first seven La Liga games since Christian Vieri with Atletico Madrid in 1997.

“Lewandowski is a top player, a world-class scorer. Maybe the best striker in the world,” Barcelona manager Xavi said.

While the result maintained Barca's unbeaten start to the league season, hosts Mallorca were the better side for much of the match, creating several good opportunities but goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen was flawless, making brilliant saves to deny Jaume Costa, Antonio Sanchez and Kang-In Lee.

Barcelona, however, made the most of what was their only clear scoring opportunity thanks to the genius of Lewandowski, who secured the victory when he sped into the area, made a brilliant cut inside to clear a defender and slotted the ball to the goalkeeper's left.

The win lifted Barca to the top of the table on 19 points, one ahead of Real Madrid who have a game in hand and host Osasuna on Sunday aiming to restore their lead. Mallorca are 10th in the standings on eight points after seven games.

Xavi a major selection headache for his matchday squad after several key players reported back from international duty nursing injuries.

He gave teenager Ansu Fati his second start of the season and his first in the league, and it was the 19-year-old, fighting his way back from four surgeries to repair an injury to his left knee suffered in late 2020, who started the move that led to Barca's goal, stealing the ball on the left and passing to Lewandowski.

“Ansu has been very good," Xavi said. "These two weeks have helped him very much, he has been extraordinary in training. Fati wants to be an important player, and I’m convinced that he will be."

But it was Ter Stegen who was responsible for Barca coming away with a win. He made a magnificent stop with his right knee in the 35th minute, denying a close range first-touch strike from Jaume Costa.

Mallorca kept pressing after the break and the German keeper was once again there to stop an equaliser, deflecting an Antonio Sanchez shot from inside the box. He showed up again just before the final whistle to deny Kang-In Lee and secure the three points.

"Marc is in spectacular form,” Xavi said after the game.

Barcelona are next in action on Tuesday when they travel to Inter Milan for an important Champions League encounter. Both sides sit on three points from two games having both beaten Viktoria Plzen but losing to group leaders Bayern Munich.

Updated: October 02, 2022, 6:00 AM
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