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Lewandowski Treble Fires Barca To Valencia Win

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Robert Lewandowski hit a second-half hat-trick to power Barcelona to an entertaining 4-2 win over 10-man Valencia on Monday in La Liga.

The champions’ victory denies leaders Real Madrid the chance to take the crown by simply beating Cadiz next Saturday. Los Blancos are 11 points clear with five matches remaining.

Fermin Lopez sent Barcelona ahead before Hugo Duro levelled and Pepelu netted from the spot to turn the game round.

Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili was sent off late in the first half for handball and Lewandowski equalised soon after the break before adding another two late on.

It rained all day in drought-ridden Barcelona and the threat of a soaking left the Olympic Stadium half empty, with an attendance of 30,000.

The small crowd might also have been a response to last weekend’s Clasico defeat, which laid out the red carpet for Real Madrid to whisk away Barcelona’s title, as well as the detested Monday night slot.

La Liga rescheduled the game at only a week’s notice, meaning many could no longer attend.

Those who were present enjoyed a surprisingly entertaining clash, with Barca coach Xavi Hernandez triumphant in his first match after deciding to stay in charge next season.

“I think the team did well… we lacked calmness, tranquility, but I’m satisfied with the team’s attitude,” Xavi told DAZN.

Visitors Valencia, eighth and striving for European football next season, carved out the best early chances.

Hugo Duro’s flick from close range was saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. On-loan Real Madrid winger Peter Federico dragged a shot wide when barrelling through on goal.

Barcelona took the lead when Lopez headed home from Raphinha’s whipped cross.

Valencia were quickly level after a grievous error by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who ran out of his box to try and intercept a long ball.

He got there first but botched his attempted dink over Duro’s head and the striker controlled the ball and held off Ronald Araujo to roll home.

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