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Dembele takes Barca to top with win over Villarreal 

Madrid, december 3

Ousmane Dembele took another step on the road to redemption as Barcelona eased past Villarreal to move back to the top of La Liga.

Dembele, dropped last month by coach Ernesto Valverde, was making his second consecutive start and repaid the faith by teeing up Gerard Pique’s opening goal in a comfortable 2-0 win at the Camp Nou.

Carles Alena, the 20-year-old Spaniard also regarded as a future star, came off the bench to add a late flourish, chipping in his first La Liga goal and Barca’s second after a defence-splitting pass from Lionel Messi.

A narrow victory puts Barca back at the top of the table, two points above Sevilla, who can reclaim their place at the summit with a win away to Alaves later on Sunday night. It also extends Barcelona’s lead over Atletico Madrid, who were held earlier in the day to a 1-1 draw by Girona.

Villarreal, meanwhile, stay 17th, with the pressure mounting on coach Javier Calleja, who has overseen only one league win since September. Alena, a dainty attacking midfielder with 13 years training in Barca’s academy, is likely to enjoy many more celebrations in front of the club’s fans but for Dembele, the sense was time had been running out. 

Valverde’s patience with the 21-year-old appeared to be wearing thin when he was left out against Real Betis three weeks ago but a late equaliser against Atletico Madrid earned a reprieve and this was another lively performance. — AFP

Former Barca prez Nunez dies 

Barcelona’s former president Josep Lluis Nunez died on Monday aged 87. “FC Barcelona are saddened by the death of Josep Lluís Nunez, club president for 22 years (1978-2000) and a key figure in the club’s contemporary history. RIP,” the La Liga side said. Nunez presided over one of Barca’s most successful periods, including their first ever European Cup triumph in 1992 and seven La Liga titles. He appointed coach Johan Cruyff who was the architect of their success. 

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