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FC Barcelona are heading into international week having strung together their best start to a league campaign in five years. Following the 0-0 draw with Rayo on day one, they have strung together five straight wins, scoring 18 goals and conceding just one!
On Saturday afternoon against Elche, they never really needed to shift into top gear as they cruised to a 3-0 victory, clearly helped by the opposition playing with a man down for almost the entire game, but nevertheless looking utterly in charge and eventually settling the three points with an opportunistic brace from the man who just never stops scoring, Robert Lewandowski, and a fine finish in between from Memphis.
Early red card
Elche, without a win against Barça since 1974 and without a win over anyone this season, were always going to be facing a very difficult challenge here.
And the challenge became all the more difficult when they had Gonzalo Verdu sent off after less than a quarter of an hour for practically rugby-tackling Lewandowski when the Pole was through on goal. It was textbook decision for the referee.
Elche battled well with ten men but it felt inevitable that Barça would eventually put them to the sword. And so they did.
A lovely move right round the edge of the area ended with Lewandowski poking home from close range.
Memphis doubled the lead with a fine twirl to dodge round John Nwankwo and slam in his first goal of the season, and it could have been three before the break but Pedri’s goal was chalked off for offside.
It wasn’t long after the restart that the Catalans did extend their lead. The manager-less Elche (coach Francisco had also been red carded) failed to deal with a moment of danger in their defence, and it was an easy finish for... It was that man once again! Eight league goals in six games for Lewandowski!
There was absolutely no doubt now where this game was going, and while the home side put on a relaxed performance for the 85,000+ fans in the stadium, Elche packed their box in what was now a damage limitation exercise for them.
Rather surprisingly, and despite an extraordinary 25-1 lead in the shot count (Elche’s solitary attempt came in the final minute), there would be no further goals, but Barça will be spending Saturday night top of the table. They could be there throughout the international break pending what happens in the Madrid derby at the Metropolitano tomorrow.
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