Sevilla dropped points at fourth-place Alaves on Sunday, allowing Barcelona to go top of La Liga with its win over Villareal. 

By Associated Press
December 02, 2018

BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona retook the lead of the Spanish league on Sunday after beating Villarreal 2-0 while Sevilla was held to a draw at Alaves.

Barcelona's first win in three rounds left it one point above second-placed Sevilla, which rallied to a 1-1 draw at fourth-placed Alaves.

Injury-depleted Barcelona got goals from Gerard Pique and rarely used reserve player Carles Alena in each half at Camp Nou.

With the hosts missing striker Luis Suarez, France forward Ousmane Dembele led Barcelona with his speedy incursions from the right flank.

Dembele crossed for Pique to head in his 36th-minute opener. The defender sent the ball off the turf and past goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo, who got a hand on the ball but couldn't keep it out.

Lionel Messi was the playmaker in the 87th for Alena, who had come on for Arturo Vidal.

Alena recovered the ball in midfield and laid the ball off to Messi. The Argentine returned it by meeting Alena's run forward with a threaded pass through four defenders. The 20-year-old Alena completed the move with a fine finish by chipping the ball over the onrushing Asenjo.

''(Alena) has won his move up from the reserve team to the first team,'' coach Ernesto Valverde said. ''We needed his energy at that moment of the match.''

Villarreal's only clear scoring chance came early when Gerard Moreno hit the post after some lax defending by Clement Lenglet.


Sevilla couldn't hold on to first place in the standings that it won last round.

Jonathan Rodriguez stabbed in a cross by Jonathan Calleri to give Alaves the lead in the 37th. Sevilla needed playmaker Pablo Sarabia to come off the bench to help rescue a point, crossing for Wissam Ben Yedder to level in the 78th.

Alaves again proved to be one of the toughest teams to beat, staying undefeated in all seven home matches this season.


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