Barcelona went top of LaLiga as a Memphis Depay strike and Robert Lewandowski’s double saw them cruise to a 3-0 victory against 10-man Elche at Camp Nou.
Elche captain Gonzalo Verdu was sent off after just 14 minutes, before Lewandowski and Depay put Xavi’s side 2-0 up at the break.
Lewandowski grabbed his second of the game after the interval to make it 11 goals in all competitions since his arrival from Bayern Munich as Barca eased to victory.
Victory continued Barca’s unbeaten start to the domestic season as they moved top ahead of Sunday’s Madrid derby.
Verdu was dismissed for cynically dragging down Lewandowski after Frenkie de Jong put the striker through on goal.
Edgar Badia made numerous saves to keep the hosts out, but the Catalans eventually capitalised on their numerical advantage with 34 minutes gone when Lewandowski tapped in Alejandro Balde’s cross.
Depay made it 2-0 soon after, lashing into the roof of the net after bamboozling John Donald with a brilliant turn.
Barca thought they were three up before the break when Pedri bundled in, but the midfielder was offside in the build-up.
Lewandowski scored his second just after half-time, rifling into the bottom-left corner after the ball fell to him in the box.
The Poland international nearly had his hat-trick when seeing a drive saved by the legs of Badia, before skimming the crossbar with another attempt.
But those misses mattered little as Barca eased to another win.
What does it mean? Brilliant Barca take advantage
Although aided by Verdu’s early red, the hosts were relentless as they put Elche to the sword with a dominant display – the visitors failed to register a shot until the 90th minute.
Xavi’s team were unlucky not to score more with their 25 attempts, going close to adding a fourth on a number of occasions, but the head coach will be pleased to have earned yet another clean sheet.
Lewy on fire
The striker has enjoyed a superb start in Barcelona colours, adding his 10th and 11th strikes of the season in all competitions with a double here.
His two goals here came from six shots, with four of those hitting the target. He will be disappointed not to have secured the hat-trick, but it has been a very encouraging start to life in Spain for the 34-year-old.
Franck Kessie may not have been notably poor before his half-time withdrawal, but he was lucky his flailing elbows did not earn him a red card.
Xavi presumably took him off to avoid such a situation, and his lack of influence in the first half was only made more notable by the performance of his replacement, Gavi, whose five key passes was a joint-high for the match.
Key Opta facts
– Lewandowski has scored at least two goals in three different games in LaLiga, a record only equalled by Erling Haaland in the top five European leagues (also three) this season.
– Among the eight goals scored by Lewandowski in LaLiga this term, only one team-mate has assisted him more than once: Balde, who also did so the Reale Arena against Real Sociedad on August 21.
– Lewandowski’s eight LaLiga goals is more than the totals of 13 teams in the competition this season.
– Elche have been sanctioned with six red cards in LaLiga this year, two more than in 2020 and 2021 combined (four) in the competition.
– Barcelona have kept five clean sheets in their first six games in LaLiga 2022-2023, a figure they did not reach until 21 games played last season.
After the international break, Barcelona go to Real Mallorca on October 1, while Elche face Rayo Vallecano in Madrid two days later.