Lewandowski double helps Barcelona thrash Elche and move closer to title


Ansu Fati doubles Barca's lead with fine goal

Ansu Fati takes it from the halfway line before finishing clinically for Barcelona.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice as leaders Barcelona won 4-0 at bottom side Elche on Saturday to go provisionally 15 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga.

While the Catalan side took another step towards their 27th LaLiga title, Real will look for a win against Valladolid on Sunday to keep their slim hopes alive.

- Stream LIVE: Real Madrid vs. Valladolid, Sunday, 10:05 a.m. ET, ESPN+

"Really happy," Barcelona coach Xaxi Hernandez said afterward. "Players that have not participated a lot came in to the side and played at a really good level. That is what being a team is. It's an important step for us. A really good win and I am happy for the players."

LaLiga top scorer Lewandowski got back on goal trail after three goalless league games, opening the scoring in the 20th minute with a close-range finish after Ronald Araujo headed the ball down to him in front of goal.

Ansu Fati doubled the lead in the 55th minute after picking up a Ferran Torres pass in his own half and breaking forward towards the edge of the box before firing low into the far corner to score in the league for the first time since October.

Barcelona's trademark high pressing paid off in the 65th minute when Gavi stole the ball off the Elche defence to set up Lewandowski in the box, who had no trouble scoring his second of the night and 17th league goal of the season.

Torres got on the scoresheet in the 70th minute, slotting his shot into the left corner for his third league goal of the campaign in a game where the rest of the squad stepped up in the absence of key players such as Ousmane Dembele, Pedri, Raphinha and Frenkie de Jong.

"It has been perfect: two from Robert, one from Ferran and one from Ansu. A great night for the forwards and players who needed and gained a lot of confidence," Xavi added.

"We showed that we are a unit, and no matter who plays, everyone delivers."

Xavi also took the chance late on to hand a debut to 19-year-old midfielder Aleix Garrido.

"He has the Barcelona profile. Technically he is gifted, he has a good final pass... It is still early but he is a player I like," Xavi said.

Barcelona will face bitter rivals Real Madrid for the fourth time in 2023 on Wednesday in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal, where they hold a 1-0 lead.

Elche are on the brink of relegation with 13 points from 27 games, 14 points adrift of the safety zone.

Information from ESPN's Sam Marsden was used in this report.