Champions Barcelona reclaimed top spot in La Liga on Sunday by overcoming a dogged Villarreal side to win 2-0 at home with goals from stalwart defender Gerard Pique and youngster Carles Alena taking them above Sevilla.
Pique headed the Catalans in front in the 36th minute, connecting with a cross from the lively Ousmane Dembele who produced another decisive display after scoring Barca’s late equaliser against Atletico Madrid last week, according to a Reuters report.
Villarreal are hovering above the relegation zone but they produced an admirable display and nearly took the lead when Gerard Moreno seized on a mix-up between goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and defender Clement Lenglet but was able only to strike the outside of the near post.
Homegrown midfielder Alena, 20, came off the bench to score his first league goal for Barca in the 87th minute and seal the win, racing on to a through ball from Lionel Messi and producing a confident finish.
“We completely dominated the play in the first half despite them hitting the post but we lacked a bit of dynamism in the area but we were rewarded with Pique’s goal,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde told reporters.
“In the second half, we lacked the ball and when that happens, we suffer a lot. We gave little away because we were organised but we do not feel comfortable playing that way.”
Barca lead the standings with 28 points after 14 games, while Sevilla are second on 27 after drawing 1-1 at Alaves. Atletico Madrid are third on 25 after being held to a 1-1 draw at Girona.
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