Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski ended his barren goalscoring spell with a brace to guide the Spanish champion to a 2-1 win over Alaves in La Liga on Sunday.
Samu Omorodion sent the visitors ahead in the first half against a dire Barcelona, but Lewandowski’s second-half double rescued three points for the host.
The victory keeps Barcelona in touching distance of shock leader Girona, four points ahead, and second place Real Madrid, with a two-point advantage, after both won 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 is also on its own miserable run of performances.
Xavi said the team was not in crisis despite the recent Clasico defeat and a stumble against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League and that it was up to him to bring the team out of their slump.
The coach handed midfielder Pedri Gonzalez his first start after injury, deployed Joao Cancelo at left-back for the first time and brought 16-year-old starlet Lamine Yamal back into the side.
It took just 18 seconds for Alaves to strike.
Ilkay Gundogan lost the ball in midfield to Jon Guridi and with Barcelona’s defence in total disarray, he fed Javi Lopez to cross for Omorodion, who slotted through Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s legs.
Barcelona was easily pulled apart on multiple occasions in the first half, with Alaves target man Omorodion, only 19, bettering Jules Kounde on several occasions.
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 in three goals up, but it was just one.
Lewandowski, 35 and at times in recent weeks looking it, was denied by Alaves goalkeeper Antonio Sivera -- the hosts’ only chance of the first period.
Fans whistled Barca players in at the break, dismayed by another lifeless display. Barcelona 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.
Xavi sent on Raphinha, Ferran Torres and Alejandro Balde, hoping their fresh legs would make the difference.
Yamal, booked for diving earlier on, stung Sivera’s hands with a hard, low strike at the near post, with Barcelona finally playing with fluency.
Barcelona moved ahead when Torres was clumsily felled in the area by Abdel Abqar, and Lewandowski smashed the penalty into the roof of the net to clinch the points.
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