Torres and Dembele shine as Barcelona thump Osasuna
Ferran Torres scored a brace and Ousmane Dembele made two assists as a red-hot Barcelona rolled over Osasuna 4-0 on Sunday to earn their fourth consecutive LaLiga win.
The victory moved Barca into the top three with 51 points, level with fourth-placed Atletico Madrid and five points behind second-placed Sevilla, but with a game in hand over their nearest rivals.
Torres opened the scoring 14 minutes into the game with a penalty after Gavi was tripped from behind inside the area.
Seven minutes later, he doubled his tally, receiving a brilliant pass by Dembele in behind the defence before beating the keeper with a delicate finish.
Dembele was unstoppable on the right flank and five minutes later the French winger teed up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to net Barca’s third from close range.
Substitute Riqui Puig completed the victory when he found the net after collecting a rebound in the 75th minute.
“I’m really happy that we won and are rising,” Torres told reporters.
“Our objective is to keep climbing in the standings and keep improving game by game.”
Coach Xavi Hernandez seemed happy with the result but believes fighting for the league title is a long-shot with his side trailing leaders Real Madrid by 12 points.
“I don’t think the league is possible this season, Real Madrid is too far ahead,” Xavi said when asked about the importance of next Sunday’s El Clasico against their bitter rivals at Madrid.
“We need to keep winning and they have to lose three or four games, it’s not realistic.”
Having dropped as low as ninth in November, when coach Ronald Koeman was fired, Barca are closing in on second-placed Sevilla, who dropped more points in a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano earlier on Sunday.
The fight to finish in the top four and secure Champions League qualification is intensifying, with only four points separating Barcelona from Real Sociedad in sixth.
Sevilla were the only team in the top seven who played and did not win this weekend and they are now looking over their shoulders after a sixth draw in their last eight league matches.
Real Madrid, who comfortably lead with 63 points from 27 games, will play at lowly Mallorca on Monday.
Wins for Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Villarreal moved them closer to Sevilla. Fifth-placed Betis have 49 points, Real Sociedad, 47, and Villarreal, in seventh, have 45.
PSG extend Ligue 1 lead as fans voice discontent
Paris St Germain extended their Ligue 1 lead to 15 points when they beat bottom side Girondins de Bordeaux 3-0 at home on Sunday, but their latest Champions League failure still loomed large at the Parc des Princes.
Kylian Mbappe, who was spared the boos of the fans, Neymar and Leandro Paredes found the back of the net to put PSG on 65 points from 28 games, four days after being knocked out of Europe’s premier club competition by Real Madrid at the last-16 stage.
The PSG players were met by a cold reception from the crowd, with Neymar heavily booed as he took a free kick after the team’s “ultra” fans had called for club president Nasser Al Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo to resign.
Olympique de Marseille leapfrogged Nice into second on goal difference after goals by Gerson, Arkadiusz Milik, Amine Harit and Cengiz Under earned them a 4-1 victory at Stade Brestois later on Sunday.
Stade Rennais are fourth, one point behind OM, after a brilliant first half gave them a 4-2 win at Olympique Lyonnais as former Lyon coach Bruno Genesio enjoyed a second success in two games against the club who sacked him in 2019.
All eyes, however, were on the Parc des Princes on a bitter afternoon.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino, who has come under fire after Wednesday’s collapse, said he felt sad.
“Nobody likes this context, it made me sad. All those who love PSG, after the disappointment of Madrid, are sad. I feel sad for what I experienced today,” he said.
Asked if Neymar and Lionel Messi, who appeared to be targeted more by the crowd than other players, were affected, he replied: “We were all affected. We understand the disappointment and frustration. We’re all going through this together as a team. We have a responsibility to take responsibility for what happened.”
The result left Bordeaux on 22 points, four points from safety.
Keylor Navas was back in goal for PSG after Gianluigi Donnarumma’s blunder cost them the first goal against Real, while Marco Verratti was suspended.
Only Mbappe, scorer of both goals in the 3-2 aggregate loss to Real, was cheered on by the fans, especially when he opened the scoring after 24 minutes.
Mbappe fired home from close range after Messi’s through ball had been deflected into his path by Georginio Wijnaldum.
Messi’s name was also booed by the crowd when the PA announcer read out the starting line-ups.
The crowd were still reeling from the disappointment of seeing their team knocked out of the Champions League after conceding three goals in 17 minutes against Real on Wednesday.
Hundreds of ultras left the Auteuil stand at halftime.
Neymar doubled the lead seven minutes into the second half as he tapped in from Achraf Hakimi’s pass after the Moroccan collected another through ball from Messi.
The goal was met by a mixture of whistles and clapping by the fans inside the Parc des Princes but the crowd celebrated properly when Paredes found the top corner from the penalty spot.
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