Barcelona thrashes Valencia, Seville lags behind

All the rush to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is starting to pay dividends for Barcelona.

Aubameyang made his debut as Barcelona’s goalscorer by celebrating a hat-trick this Sunday in a 4-1 away win over Valencia in the Spanish league.

The Gabonese striker opened the scoring at the Mestalla after controlling a deep pass from Jordi Alba, headed for goal and sealed his first goal as a Barça player with a powerful shot up in the 23rd minute.

Shortly before the break, Aubameyang built his second goal by finishing off a pass from the right wing by Gavi Páez in the 38th minute.

In a dream first half for the visitors, Frenkie de Jong scored his third goal of the season, remembering the nets in the 32nd minute by taking advantage of a diagonal pass served by Ousmane Dembélé from the heart of the area.

Aubameyang sealed his hat-trick in the 63rd by slightly redirecting a shot by Pedri González from far outside the box. The goal was initially credited to Pedri, but the league ended up giving it to Aubameyang.

It was a good reminder of the 32-year-old attacker’s quality, with his first goals in four months since falling out of favor with Premier League side Arsenal — the latest signing to join Barca over the winter transfer window limit. . In the middle of the week he started for the first time in the first leg of the duel against Napoli for the Europa League.

“He arrived with a lack of minutes but he is having them, he added his second start and hopefully he will help us like this because he is a great player and it is a luxury to have him in the squad,” said Barça midfielder Sergio Busquets.

Barcelona responded to the previous day’s wins by Atlético de Madrid — 3-0 over Osasuna — and Villarreal — 4-1 over Granada — to regain fourth place. They reached 42 points and have a game pending.

The Catalans are 15 units behind the leader Real Madrid, who defeated Alavés 3-0 on Saturday.

“We are not in a good situation. We’re still in the ‘Champions’ but we have emergencies in the standings”, said Barça coach Xavi Hernández. “There is a good dynamic, I see it, but we still have to be more consistent and more reliable, knowing how to defend with the ball, not just without it”.

Carlos Soler discounted for the hosts in the 52nd minute, diving to hit a Bryan Gil cross with his head.

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Valencia continues in free fall as it strings together its seventh day without a victory — five losses and two draws — placing itself in 12th position with 30 units. They have failed to win in the league so far in 2022.

Valencia, who played in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey, ran into bad luck in the attack zone after an advanced position by José Gayá spoiled a shot that ended up in the bottom of the goal, after a mistake by the goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, minutes after being down on the scoreboard.

In the final stretch of the first half, referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande resorted to video replay to point out that the ball had gone out before Soler managed to execute a bicycle kick to score a goal that did not go up on the scoreboard in the 42nd minute.

SEVILLE BEHIND

Sevilla was unable to maintain the advantage and equalized 1-1 on their visit to Espanyol, a result with which they dropped in the fight for the top with Madrid.

Rafa Mir opened the scoring for the Andalusian team at 36, but Sergi Darder equalized at 50 for the home side.

Sevilla left points along the way to stay with 51, six behind the leader.

The bad news for the Andalusians was harder when French defender Jules Koundé was sent off in the 76th minute, for which he will miss the derby against Real Betis the next day.

BETIS IS APPROACHING

Betis consolidated as third and moved within five points of Sevilla by winning 2-1 at home against Mallorca. A penalty converted by Brazilian striker Willian José sealed the victory.

It was the eighth win in the last nine games in all competitions for coach Manuel Pellegrini’s team, involved in the Europa League and the Copa del Rey.

basque derby

Dani Vivian, Oihan Sancet, Iñaki Williams and Iker Muniain —who missed a penalty in the first half— remembered the nets in the second half for Athletic Bilbao to beat Real Sociedad 4-0 in the Basque Country derby.

It was Bilbao’s second victory in their last 10 games against Real in the League, and the first since 2019. The result left the team from Bilbao one point behind the San Sebastian team, seventh in the table and one match pending.

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