Relentless striker Robert Lewandowski pounced twice as Barcelona hammered 10-man Elche 3-0 to move a point clear at the top of La Liga on Saturday.
The Polish forward continued his sensational form since joining from Bayern Munich this summer, with a brace taking him to 11 goals in eight appearances across all competitions. With Real Madrid, who boast a 100 percent record after five games, visiting Atletico Madrid in the Sunday night capital derby clash, this was a chance for Barcelona to provisionally depose their rivals for the first time this season, and they took it.
“We’ll sleep as leaders for the first time in two years,” said Barca coach Xavi Hernandez. “We’ve done our homework and got the three points. We’re on a good path.”
Xavi rotated in midfield after the Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich on Tuesday, with Frenkie de Jong and Franck Kessie stepping in, while Memphis Depay was handed a rare start in attack.
Elche, bottom of the table, made the job significantly easier for the hosts when Gonzalo Verdu hauled down Lewandowski as he burst through on goal after 14 minutes and was swiftly dismissed.
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Lewandowski, top of the division’s scoring charts with eight goals, had been uncharacteristically profligate against his former club, but he did not extend that generosity to the visitors at Camp Nou.
Barcelona racked up the chances and inevitably Lewandowski broke the deadlock after 34 minutes.
Pedri set Alejanrdo Balde in down the left and the young defender cut a ball across the six-yard box for the veteran striker to simply cushion into the net.
“We knew he would score goals and make the difference, but the personal side of him has surprised me,” said Xavi.
“He has a lot of humility, commitment, hunger. He’s very hard working.”