Barcelona Extends Lead Over Madrid by 15 Points as Lewandowski Scores Twice
Robert Lewandowski scored twice to help Barcelona to a comfortable 4-0 win against Elche on Saturday, opening up a 15-point lead atop the Spanish league standings. The Catalan club is now pursuing its first Spanish league title in four years. The first goal of the game came from Lewandowski in the 20th minute, followed by a goal from Ansu Fati in the 56th minute. Lewandowski added the third goal in the 66th minute, taking his league-leading tally to 17 goals in his first season in Spain. Ferran Torres scored the final goal of the match in the 70th minute.
The victory over Elche followed Barcelona’s defeat of Madrid in the league before the international break, dealing a decisive blow to its rival’s title defense. Second-place Madrid plays Real Valladolid on Sunday. Barcelona will play Madrid again on Wednesday in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal match.
The goals scored by Barcelona’s forwards ended their respective scoring droughts. Lewandowski hadn’t scored in five games, Ansu Fati hadn’t scored since January, and Ferran Torres hadn’t found the net since November.
The match was also significant for Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández, who was able to experiment with his lineup given the opponent and his team’s commanding league lead. Little-used central defender Éric García started in a new position for him as the team’s holding midfielder, while regular starter Sergio Busquets stayed on the bench ahead of the “clasico.”
Elche, on the other hand, looked like a team that has only won twice in 27 rounds. The hosts finished the game 58 points behind Barcelona and 14 points from safety. Elche defender Carlos Clerc acknowledged the team’s tough situation but said they would continue to fight on for their fans.
In other Spanish league matches on Saturday, Sevilla’s new coach José Luis Mendilibar had a winning debut as it beat Cadiz 2-0, and Athletic Bilbao’s Oihan Sancet announced a long contract extension with the club after its 0-0 draw with Getafe. Girona also beat Espanyol 2-1, leaving the latter in danger of falling into the relegation zone after four defeats in a row.