Real Mallorca 0-1 Barcelona: Lewandowski does it again to send Blaugrana top of LaLiga
Robert Lewandowski has taken no time at all to settle in LaLiga, with his latest clinical strike sufficient to see off Real Mallorca.FotMob - 12 months ago
Robert Lewandowski chalked up a LaLiga record as his ninth goal of the season gave Barcelona a 1-0 win at Real Mallorca, taking Xavi's team to the top of LaLiga.
The match-winning strike from Lewandowski made him the fastest player to reach nine goals in the Spanish top flight in the 21st century, with this just his seventh game since arriving from Bayern Munich.
Real Madrid can reassert themselves as leaders when they face Osasuna on Sunday, but the sight of Barca at the summit, however fleetingly, points to the prospect of a fierce title battle.
There was plenty to satisfy coach Xavi, including a first domestic league start of the season for Ansu Fati, even if his team had to settle for a slender victory margin.
Lewandowski put Barcelona ahead in the 20th minute, collecting a pass from Ansu Fati and racing in from the left. He cut back cleverly onto his right foot to make space, cracking a powerful low shot into the far corner.
The Pole had another chance shortly after but could not apply power to his finish after being picked out by Sergio Busquets with a smart first-time pass.
Mallorca went close to a leveller when Jaume Costa tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen after good persistence on the right flank from Antonio Sanchez.
Sanchez forced another save from Ter Stegen soon after the break with a vicious cross-shot, while at the other end Franck Kessie sent a 25-yard drive just wide after good work from Fati.
Kessie and Fati made way midway through the half as Xavi brought on Pedri and Raphinha, emphasising Barcelona's squad depth.
Pedri, Gavi and Raphinha almost combined for a fantasy goal, but Barcelona ultimately did not need a second.
What does it mean?
The mere fact of Barcelona beating Mallorca is nothing to get excited about. They have now won on 13 of their last 14 visits to Mallorca, last losing in May 2009 during Pep Guardiola's reign.
This was not a pristine performance either from Barca, with Mallorca allowed a few half-chances, including a late effort from Lee Kang-in that fizzed just wide. But Xavi's side going top is symbolic enough, reflecting the change between the team this year and 12 months ago, when they were toiling during the final weeks of Ronald Koeman's reign.
There has been enormous investment since, and it has been made with the purpose of bringing success. The first Clasico of the season is coming up, and that October 16 game at the Santiago Bernabeu cannot come soon enough.
Lewandowski keeping good company
Lewandowski had a team-high four goal attempts, won six of his eight duels, and the only concern was he seemed to hobble for a while towards the end of the game. He was not substituted though, so it appeared to be just a minor problem.
Only two players had previously scored nine or more goals in their first seven games of a LaLiga campaign – Cristiano Ronaldo (10 in 2014-15) and Lionel Messi (nine in 2017-18). They were already well into their LaLiga careers, while Lewandowski has made a stunning transition from the Bundesliga.
Could have seen it coming…
Mallorca head coach Javier Aguirre has suffered 17 LaLiga defeats against Barcelona (W2 D4), his highest tally of losses against the same opponent in the competition, losing the last 11 in a row. Don't tell us he didn't half expect this outcome.
Barcelona tackle Inter in the Champions League on Tuesday, before facing Celta Vigo in LaLiga. Mallorca are next in action on October 10 when they play Elche.