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“Xavi Applauds Barca’s Remarkable ‘Winning Spirit’ in Stunning Celta Comeback”

Barcelona, Spain (AFP) — Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez complimented his team’s “winning character” following a 3-2 comeback win over Celta Vigo on Saturday to go to the top of La Liga.

The coach, who signed a new contract until 2025 this week, celebrated his 50th La Liga victory, as Robert Lewandowski’s brace and Joao Cancelo’s late winner helped his club won despite being two goals behind entering the last 10 minutes.

Jorgen Strand Larsen and Anastasios Douvikas scored for the visitors, who appeared to be on pace for a surprise win over the champions, but Barcelona staged a “epic” comeback, according to Xavi.

“We didn’t play well (but) came up with the epic, showing winning character,” Xavi said to reporters.

“Historically, we have lacked that… this demonstrates the generational change we have, they did not give up, two nil at home.”

“I believe this generation will fight to the bitter end… what happened today is a tremendous turning point in winning character; we didn’t play well, but it’s about character, faith, and the epic.”

Wily Celta coach Rafa Benitez set up in his normal defensive manner, in contrast to Barcelona’s recent opponents Real Betis and Royal Antwerp, whose offensive desire made them easy prey.

Barcelona had scored 10 goals in their previous two matches, with Xavi claiming it was the finest performance of his reign, but this performance was on the opposite end of the scale.

“(Winning) feels good, but is it better than the day before against Betis or Antwerp?” “No, because this is not our path,” Xavi explained.

“Our path was the other day, playing well, moving the ball around high up the pitch — when we lower our intensity, this team suffers a lot.”

Celta counters

Barcelona controlled the opening stages, albeit without creating much danger, but Celta Vigo pushed ahead against the run of play after 19 minutes.

Andreas Christensen played Strand Larsen onside after a corner was only partially cleared, and the Norwegian forward finished clinically past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

At the other end Joao Felix could not control a nicely scooped Frenkie de Jong through pass, before the Dutch midfielder sustained an ankle problem and was replaced by tenacious teenager Gavi.

Celta caused problems on the counter-attack and Ter Stegen foiled Strand Larsen and Jonathan Bamba.

Eventually Benitez’s side grabbed their second through new signing Douvikas, who swept home after running on to Iago Aspas’s perfectly weighted ball.

However Barcelona hit back swiftly, with Lewandowski flicking the ball over the head of Villar and in off the crossbar after Felix cleverly chipped a ball to him over the top.

It sparked a fire previously lacking in Barcelona’s performance, with Lewandowski netting the second four minutes later after Cancelo cut the ball back into his path.

Cancelo won Barcelona the game, dispatching Gavi’s excellent cross past Villar with the prowess of a striker.

“I was making a lot of technical errors, that’s not normal in my game — I have to improve, we all have to improve,” Cancelo told Movistar.

“It’s always better to play badly and win, than to play well and lose, the three points are the most important thing.”

‘Take a screenshot’

Earlier Girona romped to a 5-3 win over Real Mallorca to move temporarily top of La Liga before Barca knocked them back down to second on goal difference.

Michel’s unbeaten side have started the season in superb form, with five wins from six matches.

Vedat Muriqi sent the visitors ahead early on with a penalty, but David Lopez levelled after 26 minutes after a scramble in the box.

Girona hit three more before half-time, with Artem Dovbyk, with another spot kick, Ivan Martin and Yangel Herrera on target.

Electric Brazilian forward Savio hit the fifth before the hour mark, with Abdon Prats pulling two goals back late on for the visitors to restore some pride.

“Let’s all take a screenshot and see if this lasts more than an hour and a half,” joked Girona coach Michel.

Real Madrid, third, who boast a 100 percent record, face Atletico Madrid on Sunday in a derby clash where they could reclaim top spot, currently trailing the top two by a point.

Sevilla drew 0-0 with Osasuna at El Sadar and continue to languish just above the relegation zone.

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