Barca beat Villarreal 2-0 in La Liga

Barcelona, Dec 3 (IANS) | Publish Date: 12/3/2018 12:02:49 PM IST

Barcelona blanked Villarreal 2-0 with goals from Gerard Pique and Carles Alena.

But it wasn’t an easy match for the Catalan squad, which needed the win after Ernesto Valverde’s boys had only managed to rack up one point of the six available in their last two games against Betis and Atletico de Madrid, reports Efe news.
Fielding the same 11 players on Sunday who won a lacklustre match a few days ago against Eindhoven, Valverde stuck to the winning script, although the team still lacks confidence and the ability to manufacture shots on goal.
The stand-out this weekend for the Catalan squad was Ousmane Dembele, who read the match well, among other good moves firing a nice cross from the right wing to Pique, who headed in the first goal in the 36th minute.
Just three minutes before the end of regulation time, Alena put the icing on the cake with his first La Liga goal, popping the ball over Sergio Asenjo after Lionel Messi - in practically his only action worthy of note in the second period - tapped a marvellous pass to him.
Barca, with several players on the injured list, were quite far off their best play, but the win moves them to the top of the La Liga standings, ahead of Sevilla.
Nevertheless, the team needs to do something to stay at the peak, since it was just their second “W” in the last five games.
Meanwhile, Villarreal has been struggling and is just one spot ahead of the relegation zone, having notched but a single win in their past eight outings.
Atletico held 1-1 by Girona 
Visiting Atletico Madrid was given a late 1-1 equaliser on an own goal by Girona defender Jonas Ramalho, following the first-half 1-0 lead scored by Uruguayan striker Christian Stuani.
Atletico extended its away winless skid to four matches on Sunday, reports Efe news.
In the first-half stoppage time, Atletico midfielder Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante, better known as “Rodri,” had a miss-pass that was scooped up by Girona winger Patrick Roberts, who passed the ball to the unmarked Stuani.
Stuani dribbled past Atleti’s keeper, Jan Oblak, who fouled the Uruguayan forward. Initially, the referee whistled a foul from outside the area; however, he gave the Girona striker a penalty after checking the VAR system.
Stuani successfully converted the penalty try and the hosts went into half-time with a 1-0 advantage. After the half, Atletico ramped up its attack to get on the scoreboard, and midfielder Saul Niguez fired a long-distance shot in the 76th minute that forced a remarkable save by Girona keeper Gorka Iraizoz, who replaced injured teammate Yassine Bounou, of Morocco.
Eight minutes before the second-half stoppage time, Ramalho was vying for the ball with Atletico striker Diego Costa just in front of Girona’s net when he accidentally put it home for the 1-1 equalizer.
With its seventh tie of the season, Atletico provisionally holds the third spot in the La Liga standings, with 25 points, while Girona is seventh, with 21 points.

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