La Liga: Barcelona extend top-table stay with 2-0 win over Villarreal
Defending La Liga champions Barcelona returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Villarreal at home on Sunday.
The Catalonian side were expected to take the league after battering five goals past a shaky Real Madrid towards the end of October. But surprisingly, they lost to Real Betis in their next and had to bounce back against Atletico Madrid to settle for a draw.
This victory, therefore – especially with goals from Gerard Pique and academy graduate Carles Alena – will help the reigning champions settle down. They still lead the table with 28 points but are one-point adrift the second-placed Sevilla and five-off Real Madrid.
The victory also extended Barcelona’s unbeaten streak against the “Yellow Submarine” to 21 games with their last defeat against Villarreal coming way back in 2008.
But more than the goalscorers, Ousmane Dembele was the star-performer of the encounter. Making his first start ever since he was dropped from playing XI against Tottenham, the Frenchman found Pique with a lovely cross in the 36th minute for the Spaniard to head home and put Barca ahead.
Homegrown midfielder Alena then came off the bench to score the winner. The 20-year-old finished-off a fine cross from Lionel Messi to net his debut goal for the club.
But that was after Gerard Moreno spurned a chance from open situation following a mix-up between goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and defender Clement Langlet.
Barca leads the table with 28 points from 14 games, while Villarreal continues to battle relegation, with 14 points from the same number of games.