Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during a Group C Champions League soccer match between FC Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

16-Year-Old Lamine Yamal Stars in Barcelona’s 4-3 Victory Over Villareal

Barcelona’s latest youth academy prospect Lamine Yamal was influential in their 4-3 victory over Villareal on Sunday away from home.

Early Drama

It was Villareal who dominated the first 10 minutes. The Blaugrana faced constant pressure from the Yellow Submarine and were nearly 1-0 down in the 7′ minute. A beautiful ball sent by Argentinian right-back Juan Foyth split the Barça lines right onto the path of their forward Alexander Sorloth. The Norwegian would hit the net, but the goal would not count as he was considered offsides.

Barcelona would open the score in the 12′ minute when Gavi scored a header from inside the six-yard box. It was Yamal’s spectacular cross that caught the Villareal defense by surprise and led to the goal. In just his second-ever start in La Liga for the Blaugrana, the 16-year-old registered his first assist for the senior team.

It took Barça only three minutes to double their advantage against the home side. Robert Lewandowski was holding up play for the Catalan side when Villareal defender Alfonso Pedraza reached out and kicked the ball away from him. It fell right to Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong who finished it near post. Unlucky moment for the Yellow Submarine, but the Barça player was in the right place at the right time.

The home side did not lose faith as they continued to dominate play after going down 2-0. In the 25′ minute, Barça keeper Ter Stegan made an excellent save that went out for a corner. Villareal made the most out of the opportunity and Foyth got one goal back. The defender worked his way through traffic and made solid contact with Álex Baena’s cross. The ball hit the post and went in. There was nothing Ter Stegan could do but watch.

The Yellow Submarine were able to level it five minutes before halftime. Beautiful team play led to the home side breaking down the Barcelona defense. Pedraza was able to make up for his unlucky play earlier and assisted Sorloth to level the score.

The Goals Continue

At the start of the second half, Barcelona came out of the locker room hot. They were taking shot after shot and were creating dangerous chances. Villareal were able to go on a counterattack and scored a goal against the run of play in the 50′ minute. Baena received a great pass from Pedraza and curled it beautifully around the keeper without taking a touch. The home side led for the first time all game.

Barcelona’s coach, Oscar Hernandez, made an attacking substitution in the 63′ minute. He is in charge because his brother, head coach Xavi Hernandez, is serving his second game of his two-match suspension after receiving a red card for excessively protesting in Barça’s week one fixture versus Getafe. Hernandez subbed in Ferran Torres for center-defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu. This would be vital for the Blaugrana as Torres scored five minutes later to tie the game.

Villareal would make their first three substitutions in the 70′ minute. This would be costly as Lewandowski scored the game-winning goal one minute later. He tapped the ball into a wide-open net after a marvelous play by Yamal. The winger dribbled the ball into the box with pace and left his marker behind. He took a low-driven shot which was saved onto the post by the keeper. The ball would fall perfectly to the unmarked Lewandowski who passed it into the goal in the 71′ minute.

After a Man-of-the-Match performance, Lamine Yamal was subbed off in the 76′. In a rare occurrence, the home and away fans applauded the youngster as he made his way to the bench. Barring injury issues, he looks to be an incredible player for years to come.

Up Next

Both Villareal and Barcelona have La Liga fixtures coming up. The Yellow Submarine take on Cádiz away from home on Friday, September 1. They hope to earn their second win of the season against a weaker opponent.

The Blaugrana will have another away day in Pamplona on Sunday, September 3. Although Osasuna are the underdogs, they are a force to be reckoned with. Last season, the club were Copa Del Rey finalists, losing to Real Madrid 2-1. This season, they have won their first two of three games. Barcelona will have to be at their best to beat Osasuna.

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