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Player ratings as Lewandowski silences critics with match-winning hat-trick

A timely hat-trick from Robert Lewandowski helped Barcelona come from behind to beat ten-player Valencia 4-2 on Monday night.

Looking to jump past Girona into second, Barca went ahead midway through the first half but a goalkeeping howler and a penalty had the visitors 2-1 up by half-time.

However, Giorgi Mamardashvili’s red card changed the game and two poacher’s efforts as well as a brilliant free-kick from Lewandowski, whose future has dominated headlines in Catalonia over the past few weeks, earned Xavi’s side victory.

How the game unfolded

Barca‘s title hopes had been all but extinguished earlier in the campaign, with Xavi’s squad needing victory on Monday night just to move into second after Girona’s win on Saturday.

However, the sloppy hosts gave away two excellent chances before coming up with the opener themselves. Hugo Duro forced a save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen from Peter Gonzalez’s cross before the young winger was sent through on goal by Mamardashvili, but he could only scuff his shot horribly to let Barca off the hook.

Instead, the Catalan giants went ahead as nice link-up play between Joao Cancelo and Raphinha saw the Brazilian whip in a devilish ball for Fermin Lopez to nod in.

But the joy of going ahead was short-lived for the hosts as a major clanger from Ter Stegen handed Valencia a lifeline. A hopeful punt forward should have been gathered by the Germany international, but he instead skewed an attempted chip which allowed Duro to collect possession and roll the equaliser into an empty net.

It got worse soon after as the visitors earned a penalty from another long ball forward. Peter was clattered by Ronald Araujo, allowing Pepelu to fire in from the spot.

Needing a response, Barca went close as Cancelo’s strike was beaten away by Mamardashvili before Araujo hit the bar with a header. Despite trailing at half-time, their cause was handed a major boost when Georgian goalie Mamardashvili, having taken an awfully heavy touch, handled the ball outside the area when Lamine Yamal was set to round him and score.

That dismissal was well and truly the turning point as Barca levelled soon after the interval. Lewandowski’s future has been a major story in recent weeks but he provided a reminder of his talents by rattling in a second-half treble.

Ilkay Gundogan picked up his seventh La Liga assist of the campaign as his in-swinging corner was met by the Polish striker, who flicked a header into the far corner.

Replacement goalie Jaume Domenech was on hand to deny Jules Kounde’s effort from distance and another header from Lewandowski, but Valencia noticeably tired with a player deficit and were again undone by a set piece.

Another corner prompted panic in the area and Domenech flapped under the cross, seeing the ball loop to Lewandowski who had little option but to nod in and put Barca back in front late on.

There was enough time for Lewandowski to complete his hat-trick with a stunning free-kick, reaching 16 La Liga goals for the season and putting Barca back into second behind Real Madrid in the process.

Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski delivered on Monday night / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 4/10 – Floundered awfully to help Valencia get back into the game. Needlessly complicated stuff from the goalkeeper.

RB: Jules Kounde – 7/10 – Not the most aggressive defensive display but the Frenchman had more touches (136) than any other player and always looked to play the ball forward.

CB: Ronald Araujo – 6/10 – Conceded a penalty with a mindless sliding challenge in the area. Proved a menace in the opposition area, however, unsettling the Valencia defence at every set piece.

CB: Pau Cubarsi – 5/10 – A mistimed reducer saw the youngster booked. Withdrawn at half-time.

LB: Joao Cancelo – 6/10 – Given a fair bit of grief by Valencia right winger Peter, fairly often struggling to match his opposite number for pace.

DM: Andreas Christensen – 5/10 – Couldn’t get much of a grip on the game and came off after the first 45 minutes.

CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 8/10 – Was full of determination and enterprise, creating five chances including some tantalising deliveries from set-pieces.

CM: Fermin Lopez – 7/10 – Got into the box to nod in Barca’s opener and did his best trying to unsettle the visiting midfield.

RW: Lamine Yamal – 7/10 – Glided past defenders with incredible ease and was constantly fed possession by his teammates.

ST: Robert Lewandowski – 9/10 – Responded to his critics in the best way possible; goals, goals and more goals. Was the penalty area predator Barca needed on the night before rounding things off with a dreamy free-kick.

LW: Raphinha – 6/10 – Great cross set up Lopez, but his other deliveries failed to reach their intended targets. Still might have felt aggrieved at his somewhat early withdrawal.


SUB: Inigo Martinez (46′ for Cubarsi) – 6/10

SUB: Sergi Roberto (46′ for Christensen) – 5/10

SUB: Joao Felix (66′ for Raphinha) – 5/10

SUB: Pedri (73′ for Lopez) – 6/10

SUB: Ferran Torres (80′ for Cancelo) – N/A

Subs not used: Inaki Pena, Marcos Alonso, Oriol Romeu, Vitor Roque, Marc Casado, Diego Kochen, Hector Fort.


Xavi – 6/10 – Barca looked fairly uninspired in parts but some of the mistakes made that allowed Valencia back into contention can’t be laid at Xavi’s feet. Will be happy with the result but not the chaotic sequence of events it entailed.

Player of the match: Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)


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