Robert Lewandowski played the hero for FC Barcelona, scoring twice to lead a comeback for a narrow 2-1 victory at home against Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.
The Polish striker turned the tide for Barcelona after an underwhelming performance, where Samu Omorodion had given Alaves an early lead just around 20 seconds into the game.
Samu, displaying power but lacking precision, had opportunities to score a hat-trick in the first 15 minutes.
However, a combination of his poor finishing and Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goalkeeping skills kept Barcelona within a one-goal deficit until Lewandowski’s equalizer with a towering header in the 53rd minute.
The decisive moment came with a penalty in the 78th minute, following a clumsy challenge on Ferran Torres. Lewandowski coolly converted the penalty, securing three vital points for Barcelona in a match that did little to strengthen their title defense claims.
Atletico Madrid also staged a comeback, overcoming an early setback to defeat Villarreal 3-1, staying two points behind Barcelona with a game in hand.
Villarreal, having recently sacked coach Jose Luis Rojo ‘Pacheta’ with sporting director Miguel Angel Tena temporarily at the helm, initially led through Gerard Moreno’s goal. Moreno capitalized after Jan Oblak parried Alexander Sorloth’s initial shot.
Axel Witsel brought Atletico level with a finish at the far post from Antoine Griezmann’s low cross during first-half injury time. Griezmann then put Atletico in front with 10 minutes remaining.
This goal marked Griezmann’s 169th for Atletico, placing him as the club’s second-highest scorer, only behind Luis Aragones (174 goals). Samuel Lino then cemented the victory with a powerful run and shot five minutes before the end.
The Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis ended in a 1-1 draw, with Ivan Rakitic’s 79th-minute long-range strike neutralizing Ayoze Perez’s 72nd-minute goal for Betis.
Despite creating better chances, Betis’ draw adds to the mounting pressure on Sevilla coach Diego Alonso, who hasn’t secured a win in La Liga or the UEFA Champions League since taking over from Jose Luis Mendilibar just over a month ago.
On Saturday, Girona secured the top spot going into the international break with a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano. Real Madrid delivered an impressive performance against a struggling Valencia, with Vinicius and Rodrygo each scoring twice in their 5-1 triumph.
Real Sociedad added to Almeria’s woes with a 3-1 victory. Meanwhile, Granada remains in a precarious position after a 1-1 draw with Getafe, mirroring the result of the match between Osasuna and Las Palmas.