Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 in LaLiga despite playing the last 20 minutes with a man less.
Alaves piled on the pressure in the first period, but Barcelona scored the opening goal of the game with Roberto Lewandowski’s ninth goal of the season in their first game since manager Xavi announced his resignation in the summer.
The home side were looking for a fourth league win in a row but their hopes appeared to be dashed when Ilkay Gundogan doubled Barca’s lead.
Samuel Omorodion brought the hosts back into the game minutes later before Vitor Roque came off the bench for a few minutes in the storm. He gave Barca a third and then saw red for a second bookable offence, but Barca still held on for their fifth win in six league games.
The home side were giving Barca a lot of trouble in the early stages and Omorodion was waiting to strike from six yards after Sol’s low cross, but Ronald Araujo was there to clear the danger.
Back came Alaves looking for an opener, this time Omorodion was first to meet the corner at the front post but his glancing header eluded everyone inside the area.
Against the run of play, Barcelona broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute when Lewandowski latched on to a clever pass from Gundogan and the Polish forward slotted past Antonio Siver to make it 1-0.
Alaves almost equalized five minutes later when John Guridi nodded towards goal, but Barca goalkeeper Inaki Pena did well to push the ball away.
The home side had another great chance when the ball fell perfectly to Omorodion, but he volleyed wide of the goal.
Barcelona started the second half much more solidly and their efforts were rewarded with a second goal four minutes after the break when Pedri’s delicious cross found Gundogan at the back post and he volleyed across goal to double the visitors’ lead.
Alaves responded almost immediately when Sol’s cross found Omorodion who headed past Peno to reduce the deficit back to a solitary goal.
Barcelona restored their two-goal lead just after the hour mark with a well-executed team goal.
Lamine Yamal started the move when he danced past Javi Lopez and after some quick passing, Hector Fort cut it short for Roque who tucked the ball into the bottom right corner.
Barcelona were forced to play the final 20 minutes with a man less after substitute Roque was sent off for a second yellow card after just 13 minutes on the pitch.
The 18-year-old Brazilian was booked moments earlier and saw red after appearing to clip Rafa Marino, which the referee said was worth another yellow card as the Barca players protested strongly.
Alaves looked for a way back into the game but Barcelona looked solid and held on to make it back-to-back wins.
Barcelona player ratings
GK: Inaki Pena – 7/10 – Came up with a few important saves and punches when Barcelona were under the cosh. Too good to only play as an understudy in his career.
RB: Jules Kounde – 6/10 – Solid on the ball but put himself in some questionable positions off it with the game at 11-v-11. Bucked his ideas up when Barcelona had to sit in.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 6/10 – Served as a suitable senior to the adolescent Cubarsi. Denied a goal of his own by a flying block early on.
CB: Pau Cubarsi – 6/10 – Like a deer in the headlights in the opening 60 seconds but recovered well from that point, particularly considering he is only 17.
LB: Joao Cancelo – 5/10 – Excellent going forward but Alaves sought to attack down his side and he was sacrificed at the break in search of defensive solidity.
CM: Andreas Christensen – 6/10 – As Xavi would have hoped, the centre-back had the requisite skillset to play a little higher up the pitch and his positioning did not prove disruptive in either direction.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – 7/10 – Surprisingly asked to retrieve the ball from the back on occasion despite Christensen’s proficiency in midfield. Silky smooth wherever he had the ball.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 9/10 – Absolutely sensational in his hour on the pitch before succumbing to injury. Ran Barcelona’s attack having been freed from defensive duties.
RW: Lamine Yamal – 8/10 – Scampered up the touchline with his usual youthful exuberance. A delight to watch.
CF: Robert Lewandowski – 8/10 – Wasn’t too involved in the second half but his movement caused Alaves problems in the first, culminating in a well-taken opening goal.
LW: Pedri – 8/10 – Bounced across the pitch with magisterial brilliance, providing an assist for Gundogan. Brought off late on as Barcelona looked to see out the game with ten men.
SUB: Hector Fort (46′ for Cancelo) – 7/10 – Brought on for his defensive nous but provided an assist. Funny how football works.
SUB: Vitor Roque (59′ for Gundogan) – 7/10 – Two goals in two games for Barcelona’s newest star. Desperately unlucky to have been sent off.
SUB: Fermin Lopez (75′ for Pedri) – 5/10
SUB: Inigo Martinez (83′ for Cubarsi) – 5/10
SUB: Oriol Romeu (83′ for Christensen) – 5/10