(Football News) Robert Lewandowski came to Barcelona’s rescue for the second consecutive game by earning and successfully converting an 86th-minute penalty, securing a 2-1 victory over Osasuna on Sunday. Lewandowski’s decisive goal came just 10 minutes after substitute Chimy Ávila had equalized for Osasuna. Barcelona’s initial goal in the first half’s injury time was headed in by defender Jules Koundé.
Barcelona’s triumph allowed them to remain within two points of the Spanish league leader, Real Madrid, after completing four rounds of matches. Lewandowski had previously scored the winning goal for Barcelona in a thrilling 4-3 encounter against Villarreal the previous weekend. Coach Xavi Hernández commented on Lewandowski’s performance, saying, “He is a natural-born scorer. Maybe he didn’t have that many touches today, but even if he hadn’t scored, it would have been a great game by him. His goals have given us back-to-back wins.”
The match in Pamplona witnessed the debuts of João Cancelo and João Félix as second-half substitutes. Both Portuguese players joined Barcelona on loan deals just before the closure of the summer transfer window on Friday night. Osasuna played the final minutes with only 10 men following Alejandro Catena’s red card for his foul on Lewandowski, who was left with only goalkeeper Aitor Fernández to beat. Lewandowski’s goal from the ensuing penalty marked his second of the season.
Xavi acknowledged that the victory may not have been aesthetically pleasing, but it was hard-fought, especially against Osasuna, a team known for reaching the Copa del Rey final last season and employing a physical style that challenges most opponents. Xavi stated, “We didn’t play our best game, and in some stages, we weren’t patient enough or able to create scoring chances. (But) the truth is the team worked hard. Today we put on our work clothes. We knew how to dig in and get the win.”
Koundé made a breakthrough right before the end of the first half during injury time. He skillfully shook off his defender and directed Ilkay Gundogan’s corner kick into the far post, leaving Fernández with no chance to reach it.
Cancelo, who had recently arrived at Barcelona on loan from Manchester City, made his debut as a substitute a mere two days after joining the club. The right-back came on for Sergi Roberto with just over thirty minutes remaining in the game.
Chimy’s equalizing goal bore a striking resemblance to numerous goals often seen from his fellow Argentine, Lionel Messi, during his time with Barcelona. Despite tight marking from Alejandro Balde just outside the penalty area, Chimy swiftly traversed from the right to the left along the edge of the box. He then unleashed a left-footed shot that curled around a cluster of defenders and found the back of the net after hitting the post.
Following Chimy’s goal, Félix, who had recently transferred from Atletico Madrid, entered the match with just over ten minutes left on the clock. It was Lewandowski and Frenkie de Jong’s combination that ultimately secured the victory. De Jong, who had kicked off the game with a shot that hit the post, connected with Lewandowski’s run using a long pass. The Polish striker skillfully controlled the ball with one touch just before he was brought down by Catena, who had yanked his arm.
“We played exceptionally well,” the coach remarked. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t have more to show for it, but this is the direction we’re heading in.” In the final moments of the game, central defender Iñigo Martínez made his debut for Barcelona. The former Athletic Bilbao player had been sidelined due to injury since joining Barcelona as a free agent earlier in the summer.
Sixteen-year-old Yamine Lamal made his third consecutive start for Barcelona. On Friday, the young teenager received his first call-up to Spain’s national team for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers.
Also Read: La Liga Transfers for the summer of 2023