Lewandowski grabs late winner; Atlético lose on the finishing touch



BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona were on the verge of another setback when Robert Lewandowski stretched his right boot and found the winner.

The Polish striker’s stoppage time goal snatched a 1-0 victory at Valencia on Saturday, taking Barcelona to the top of the Spanish league standings on points with Real Madrid.

Lewandowski’s final slot spared Xavi Hernández’s side more disappointment three days later. withdrew from the Champions League in the group stage for the second consecutive year.

Despite failing to find the net in defeats to Madrid and former club Bayern Munich, Lewandowski is enjoying excellent form in the Spanish league with a record 13 league goals in 12 rounds.

He again made up for his teammates’ poor finish at Valencia when he headed a lobbed pass from Raphinha home for the late breakthrough.

Raphinha and Ferran Torres, Barcelona players have spent more than 110 million euros ($110 million) to win over the past year, both missing golden chances in the 85th after coming on as substitutes. Pedri González provided what looked like a perfect assist for Torres, but instead of just pushing it home, the former Valencia and Manchester City striker fired the ball up his other leg. Raphinha then smashed the rebound over the bar.

But the connection between Raphinha and the new star of the team was enough to take the three points at the Mestalla stadium.

“It’s a very important victory for us, especially for the way we won,” said Xavi. “We played with stage fright today. We tried to disconnect and move on from the Champions League, but you could see that we are still affected. We still deserved the win, even if it came in the last seconds.

Madrid can regain the lead when they face Girona on Sunday.

While Barcelona won in the last moments, for a second game in a row, Atlético Madrid was betrayed on the last touch of the ball.

Cádiz beat Atlético 3-2 after Rubén Sobrino struck a cross just before the final whistle to tip the competition in the hosts’ favour.

The last-second loss came just three days after Atlético were also eliminated of the Champions League during the group stage after a 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. Atlético’s Yannick Carrasco had a penalty saved and two rebound attempts by his teammates failed on the final kicks of the match.

Cadiz led 2-0 until substitute João Félix sparked a late Atlético comeback. His scissor kick was turned into his own net by Luis Hernández in the 85th and Félix equalized with a long shot in the 89th.

But a last-minute push from Cadiz paid off when Sobrino was left unmarked at the far post where he used his chest to spin a cross and spark the celebrations at the Nuevo Mirandilla stadium.

The defeat jeopardized Atlético’s hold on third place.

It was relegation-threatened Cadiz’s first home win this season.

A solo effort from Rayo Vallecano winger Álvaro García on a counterattack was enough to beat Sevilla 1-0 and deliver another blow to the struggling side in front of their fans.

Sevilla joined in the debacle of Spanish sides this week in the Champions League when they too were knocked out. The team are yet to win a home game in this league, and the coaching change with Jorge Sampaoli replacing Julen Lopetegui has yet to change things.

Sevilla remained on the edge of the relegation zone, a long way from fourth place last season.

Almería also came from behind to beat Celta Vigo at 10 3-1.

French defender Jules Koundé, Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, Spanish striker Álvaro Morata and Spanish defender Éric García have all been substituted due to apparent physical issues while playing for their clubs.

Koundé and García, both from Barcelona, ​​were both substituted in the second half at Valencia. Xavi said it looked like neither injury was serious.

Cavani came down early for Valencia, holding his right leg and grimacing as he walked away. Cavani has been included on Uruguay coach Diego Alonso’s preliminary list for Qatar. Valencia coach Gennaro Gattuso says Cavani has ankle pain which should be looked into.

Atlético’s Morata had to be substituted due to a right foot bruise.

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