Robert Lewandowski scored a brace as Barcelona cruised to a 4-1 victory at Real Sociedad, their first win of the La Liga season.
Ansu Fati, the Spanish teenager who has been struggling to recover after a series of knee surgeries in the last two years, came off the bench in the second half and took charge of the game with two assists and a goal.
Lewandowski opened the scoring in the first minute, rifling in a shot after a great pass from Alejandro Balde inside the penalty area. But Alexander Isak equalised five minutes later after latching on to a pass from David Silva.
Barcelona struggled to break the deadlock until the coach, Xavi Hernández, sent on the former Leeds player Raphinha and Fati in the 64th minute, with both proving crucial to the visitors’ success.
First, Fati assisted Ousmane Dembélé with a brilliant heel pass after a fine piece of play from Raphinha. Than Fati was part of a beautiful team effort to assist Lewandowski for the third.
Lewandowski returned the favour 10 minutes later, enabling the 19-year-old to score Barca’s fourth to wrap up the points.
Villarreal’s goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli made a series of brilliant saves to keep out Atlético Madrid and help his side to a 2-0 away win thanks to goals from Yeremy Pino and Gerard Moreno.
Rulli made outstanding saves to prevent three clear goalscoring opportunities for Atlético, and at least three more key blocks during the game, in which both sides created several chances.
After making a strong start to the new campaign last Monday with a 3-0 win at Getafe, Atlético were a constant threat in the box with Álvaro Morata and João Félix looking ready to pounce. Morata almost scored a beauty when he sent a thunderous strike in from inside the area that Rulli stopped.
Last year’s Champions League semi-finalists had a Moreno strike cancelled out in the 33rd minute as the striker touched the ball with his right hand when trying to control a rebound in the six-yard-box, after his first effort bounced back off the bar.
Rulli made the stop of the match in the 70th minute when he denied what looked like a certain goal from Matheus Cunha with a one-handed reflex move from close range. In the very next play, a catastrophic error by Nahuel Molina when attempting to make a clearance gifted a golden opportunity to Pino who, inside the area, had time to control the ball and roll it past Jan Oblak.
Six minutes later, Rulli made another stunning stop to prevent an equaliser from a Yannick Carrasco close-range header. Molina’s debut in front of his new club’s fans was one to forget as he was sent off with a straight red card for a heavy foul on Álex Baena. With Atlético down to 10 men, Villarreal scored their second in stoppage time through Moreno in a swift counterattacking move.
In Sunday’s other game Athletic Bilbao beat Valencia 1-0 thanks to a 42nd-minute strike from Álex Berenguer.