FC Barcelona 4-2 Valencia: Hat-trick seals comeback win

FC Barcelona 4-2 Valencia: Hat-trick seals comeback win

Visitors respond twice to Fermín's opener before Lewandowski hat-trick earns three points from an action-packed Monday night fixture at the Estadi Olímpic

FC Barcelona beat Valencia 4-2 in a rare Monday evening fixture, although the win took a lot more work than the final result might suggest.

Despite scoring first, Barça found themselves trailing at the break in a total roller-coaster of a match.

Fortunes took a turn for the better when the visitors had their goalkeeper sent off just before the break, but Barça needed to make the very best of the situation in the second half. And they certainly did - and one man in particular. Robert Lewandowski is taking home the match ball home after his brilliant hat-trick sent the team back up to second place in the Liga table.

Solid start

Torrential rain had been pouring down on the Catalan capital all day, but a very decent crowd braved the inclement weather, and fears concerning the possible state of the Montjuic pitch were utterly unfounded as the game was played a near-perfect surface.

And Barça got-off to a near-perfect start, capitalising on their early dominance the opening goal on 22 minutes. Raphinha whipped in a lovely cross and Fermin Lopez rose to glance the ball goalward with his head.

Double setback

It might have looked like Barça were in for a comfortable ride, but Valencia, who could already have scored when Peter Federico was clean through on goal, managed to turn the tables before an extremely eventful first half was up.

The first goal came off a blundered clearance by Ter Stegen that ended with Hugo Duro through on an empty goal. Not the way the German had hoped to celebrate becoming the foreigner with the most appearances for Barça.

The visitors’ second came from the penalty spot, Ronald Araujo bringing Peter down in the area and Pepula converting the kick.

Valencia down to ten

Things had turned complicated, but Barça were then delivered the bonus of playing the whole of the second half with an extra man.

Valencia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili bodged a clearance of his own and in a desperate attempt to prevent Raphinha from exploiting the error he ended up handling the ball outside of his box. VAR advised the referee to take a closer look and, yes, it was a red card.

Lewandowski makes it two...

It didn’t take long for the Catalans to cash in on their numerical advantage. Four minutes into the second half, Lewandowski nodded in and that was 2-2.

We had an enthralling battle on our hands. Understandably most of it was one-way traffic, but replacement keeper Jaume Domènech was certainly proving his worth in the Valencia goal.

Not only were the nine men in front of him standing their ground, but they would have regained the lead had substitute Pedri not saved the day with a fantastic last-ditch tackle.

It was still only 2-2, yet the atmosphere in the stadium felt like Barça were winning. It was as if the home fans knew more goals was coming. And they were right.

Another corner. Lewandowski’s head once again. And Barça were back in the lead.

...three and four

It was game over by this stage. Valencia were worn to the ground by their exertions. But Lewandowski wanted more.

Deep into injury time and a simply stunning free kick rattled into the back of the net. That was his hat-trick. And his 16th goal of the season. Unsurprisingly, the MVP award went the way of the Pole, and the way things are looking, there could be another Pichichi trophy sitting on his masterpiece very soon too.

Those three goals have moved Lewandowski to within just one of Bellingham (Real Madrid) and Sorloth (Villarreal), with Artem Dovbyk (Girona) out in front.

And they have also sent the team back up to second in the league, a position they’ll be defending in five days time at the home of their most direct rival in that battle. Girona v Barça kicks off at Montilivi at 8.30pm CEST. Watch this space!

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