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Rediff.com  » Sports » La Liga: Dembele delights Nou Camp; Ramos has night to forget

La Liga: Dembele delights Nou Camp; Ramos has night to forget

May 10, 2018 09:46 IST

Barca roll over Villarreal

Barcelona

IMAGE: Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele celebrates with Ivan Rakitic after scoring.Photograph: Albert Gea /Reuters

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele scored twice and produced a mesmerising display to fire his side to a 5-1 win over Villarreal on Wednesday which stretched the champions' unbeaten run this season to 36 games with two remaining.

 

Barca's record signing Philippe Coutinho fired the home side ahead in the 11th minute on the rebound after a darting run forward and shot from Frenchman Dembele while midfielder Paulinho finished off a delightful team move to double their lead five minutes later.

Barca's departing captain Andres Iniesta produced the through ball to help create the second goal and he further delighted the crowd with a crafty first-time pass over the top which Lionel Messi tucked into the far corner on the volley for the third goal at the end of the first half.

Villarreal got a goal back nine minutes into the second period when Nicola Sansone diverted a shot beyond Barca's stand-in goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who later blocked a shot from Spain international Rodri on the line with his body.

Dembele grabbed a deserved goal in the 87th by knocking in from close range after a stunning individual run from substitute Ivan Rakitic.

The Croatian coasted past two defenders down the right wing, knocking the ball past one and through the legs of the other, before laying on the pass for the Frenchman to score.

Dembele, 20, then delighted the home fans with a virtuoso individual run and stylish dink over goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo to complete the drubbing in stoppage time.

It was the finest display in a Barca shirt from Dembele, who has taken his time to adapt to life in Spain since a 105 million-euro move from Borussia Dortmund last August, not helped by a long layoff with a serious hamstring injury.

"We've talked about him a lot, he has so much talent, technique, he's fast, he has a spark about him, he's two footed. He has it all and he can help us a lot," Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said of Dembele.

"He's young and he has a lot of time ahead of him. Every player needs time to adapt and when you are young you have a lot to learn, but today for his second goal he was incredible."

Valverde started without Rakitic and striker Luis Suarez while leaving number one keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen on the bench for the rescheduled game, which was due to take place on the weekend of the King's Cup final.

His side, however, were still far too good for Villarreal, who are sixth in the Liga standings.

The champions moved on to 90 points, stretching their gap over second-placed Atletico Madrid to 15 points after 36 games.

Barca are two matches away from becoming the first team in La Liga since 1933 to complete a season without losing and the first since the league was expanded from nine teams.

Real lose at Sevilla

Real Madrid

IMAGE:  Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos prepares to take a penalty. Photograph: Jon Nazca /Reuters

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos scored an own goal and missed a penalty as his side were beaten 3-2 by Sevilla on Wednesday, falling to their sixth defeat in La Liga this season after coach Zinedine Zidane made sweeping changes to his side.

French forward Wissam Ben Yedder put Sevilla in front in the 26th minute after racing in behind Ramos while Miguel Layun doubled the home side's lead on the stroke of halftime, knocking into an empty net from close range.

Former Sevilla defender Ramos struck the crossbar from the spot in the 58th minute and then put through his own net to stretch the home side's advantage to three goals in the 84th as he tried to cut out a cross from Gabriel Mercado.

Real striker Borja Mayoral headed a goal back in the 87th and Ramos scored from his second attempt from the penalty spot deep in stoppage-time.

Zidane made eight changes to his side after Sunday's gruelling 2-2 draw at arch rivals Barcelona, only retaining Ramos, French striker Karim Benzema and midfielder Casemiro.

Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo and top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo all remained in the Spanish capital to stay fresh for the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev on May 26.

"I picked a team that could have won the game comfortably, I don't have any regrets about the players I picked," Zidane told reporters.

"It's a shame for the players who play less often but I can't blame them, they did everything possible."

Madrid are third in the standings on 72 points and missed out on the chance to move level with city rivals Atletico, who are second on 75.

Champions Barcelona stretched their heavy lead over Atletico to 15 points after thrashing Villarreal 5-1 at home on Wednesday.

Sevilla, meanwhile, continued their resurgence since Italian coach Vincenzo Montella was sacked, picking up their second win from two games under stand-in manager Joaquin Caparros.

They climbed two points above Getafe into seventh place, the final Europa League qualification spot, with two games left of the campaign.

Sevilla can clinch seventh if they win at fierce city rivals Real Betis on Saturday and Getafe fail to beat second-placed Atletico Madrid.

"We've talked to the players a lot as a group and individuals, we've told them they are very good and they're used to playing in finals and we told them today was like a final," said veteran coach Caparros, who is in his second spell in charge of Sevilla.

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