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Lewandowski double rescues Barca

AFP – Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski ended his barren goalscoring spell with a brace to rescue the Spanish champions a 2-1 win over visiting Alaves in La Liga on Sunday.

Samu Omorodion sent Alaves ahead in the first minute against a dire Barcelona but Lewandowski’s second half double rescued the hosts three points.

The victory keeps Barcelona in touching distance of shock leaders Girona, who are four points ahead, and second place Real Madrid, who have a two-point advantage, after both won on Saturday.

Veteran forward Lewandowski scored a brilliant header early in the second half and thrashed home a penalty in the 77th minute to reach seven league goals.

Catalonia is in drought and Lewandowski was enduring one too, with the striker on his worst stretch of form for over a decade, having failed to score in six appearances prior.

Barcelona are also on their own miserable run of performances, which Xavi said is because the players are nervous, especially the younger ones, due to heavy media criticism.

ABOVE & BELOW: Barcelona’s Robert Lewandoski in action; and Lewandoski celebrates with his team after scoring against Alaves. PHOTO: AP

“We were more tense than normal because of all the noise generated around the team,” Xavi told reporters after Barca’s comeback.

“It happened to me as a player and it’s happening to my players.”

Before the match Xavi said the team were not in crisis despite the recent Clasico defeat and a stumble against Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek, and that it was up to him to bring them out of their slump.

However it took just 18 seconds for Alaves to strike.

Ilkay Gundogan lost the ball in midfield and with Barcelona’s defence in total disarray, Javi Lopez crossed for Omorodion, who slotted through Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s legs. “We cannot make those mistakes, it’s unacceptable,” said Xavi.

“We’re giving far too much away and that takes a toll.”

Barcelona were easily pulled apart on multiple occasions on the first half, with Alaves target man Omorodion, on loan from Atletico and only 19, bettering Jules Kounde repeatedly.

Xavi switched the French centre-back to right-back midway through the first half, after the striker barged past Kounde and hit the crossbar.

Omorodion fired wide one-on-one with Ter Stegen on another occasion and Alaves could easily have walked off three goals up.

Fans whistled Barca players at the break and they reacted, levelling early in the second half.

Kounde crossed from the right and Lewandowski arced a brilliant header beyond Sivera’s reach and into the net.

Barcelona clinched the win when substitute Ferran Torres was clumsily felled in the area by Abdel Abqar and Lewandowski smashed the penalty into the roof of the net.