BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Koundé showed why Barcelona mortgaged part of its future for them by producing goals in a commanding 3-0 win at Sevilla in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Lewandowski made it five goals in four appearances since moving from Bayern Munich, ex-Leeds winger Raphinha scored his first for Barcelona, and Koundé provided two assists against his former club to secure a third straight win.
Barcelona climbed into second place, two points behind Real Madrid, which ended Real Betis’ perfect start to the league after beating Seville’s other club 2-1 in Spain’s capital.
Barcelona turned the momentum from the 18th minute when Gavi Páez launched Ousmane Dembélé on a counterattack. The forward, a constant menace to Sevilla, played Lewandowski clear for him to chip the ball over goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. Fernando cleared it off his line but it fell to Raphinha to nod home.
Lewandowski, who has failed to score only in his debut, doubled the lead when he controlled a long ball from Koundé with his chest, and without letting it touch the ground, swept it past Bounou with his right foot.
Éric García added a third goal in the 51st when Koundé generously headed down a cross by Raphinha for his fellow defender to tap in.
Only Bounou stopped Lewandowski from recording a third brace in a row.
All told, this was why manager Xavi Hernández urged Barcelona president Joan Laporta to do whatever he must to give him the talent to renew a team whose decline was accelerated by Lionel Messi’s departure last year. Heavily indebted, Barcelona sold off part of its future television rights and other assets to sign the trio for 160 million euros.
Xavi praised 18-year-old Gavi for his tackling in midfield, and Lewandowski.
“It’s not only the goals, but how he wins high balls; he is a wonderful outlet. And how he commands our pressure to recover the ball. He is a fantastic player with his sense of timing,” Xavi said about the Poland striker. “He is helping us a lot with his leadership, with the things you don’t see when you watch the game, how he helps the staff and his teammates. It is amazing to have him on the team.”
Sevilla, which finished fourth last season, remained winless with one draw and three defeats. Julen Lopetegui’s team next faces Manchester City in the Champions League opening round on Tuesday.
Young Brazilian forwards Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo proved the difference for Madrid again in a meeting of the top two teams through the first month.
Madrid made it four wins in as many matches, while Betis was left three points behind in third place.
Carlo Ancelotti moved into third place on Madrid’s list of coaches with the most career victories. With 133 wins, he trails only Miguel Muñoz (357) and Zinedine Zidane (172).
Before kickoff, Madrid’s players presented the Champions League trophy and the recently won UEFA Super Cup to their fans in their first home game of the season. The club played the first three rounds on the road as it continues renovation work on Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Betis hadn’t lost at Madrid in five seasons, winning two and drawing three while not conceding a goal at the powerhouse. But that drought was broken after just nine minutes.
Madrid starts its defense of its European title on Tuesday against Celtic in Glasgow.
Sadiq Umar scored five minutes into his debut for Real Sociedad to draw with Atlético Madrid 1-1.
Sadiq went on at halftime and soon showed his prowess in the area when he jumped over his marker to head in a cross by fellow newcomer Mohamed-Ali Cho. Sadiq almost scored another but it was waived off for offside.
Álvaro Morata opened the scoring early when he pushed in a rebound off the post from a corner kick by Yannick Carrasco. It was his third goal since returning from a one-season loan at Juventus.
Sociedad paid Almería a club record 20 million euros ($19.9 million) for Sadiq to replace Aleksander Isak, who joined Newcastle on a record sale for Sociedad of 70 million euros ($69 million).
Atlético lost goalkeeper Jan Oblak apparently to a knock in the final minutes.
Elsewhere, Girona’s Samuel Sainz converted a penalty in stoppage time in a 1-1 draw at Mallorca.
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