Levante v Barcelona - story of the match

Levante v Barcelona - story of the match

The shock of the season saw Barca suffer their first league loss since going down 2-0 to Malaga on April 8, 2017, ending an incredible, record-breaking sequence that had lasted 43 games.

The defeat also put the spotlight on Valverde's decision to rest his serial match-winner Messi - not for the first time this season, but still a rare occurrence - so close to achieving the unbeaten domestic campaign.

Yet Philippe Coutinho also completed a hat-trick and Luis Suarez scored from the penalty spot as Barca fought back to set up a tense finale.

No side have gone an entire Spanish top-flight season unbeaten since the 1930s when there were only 18 games in a season.

This was Barcelona's first league loss since slipping up against Malaga on April 8 a year ago and while it has minimal impact on the table, Valverde will have questions to answer, not least with regards to leaving out Messi. The unbeaten record was supposed to help atone for the European failure. They move up to 15th.

More news: Manchester City broke seven more Premier League records today

Led by Emmanuel Boateng's hat trick and two more goals from Enis Bardhi, Levante was heading toward a historic rout with a 5-1 lead after 56 minutes.

Just three minutes later, remarkably, the hosts, who looked destined for relegation earlier in the season, came inches away from doubling their advantage, as Bardhi found himself with the goal at his mercy, yet could only clatter the crossbar - affording Ernesto Valverde's much-changed backline a huge let off. Boateng bagged his hat-trick, slotting his shot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal for Barcelona to make it 4-1 in the 49th minute.

Another counter just before the hour ended with another crisp Bardhi finish, as Barca were now staring at a four-goal deficit.

After dribbling his way into the opposition's final third, the centre back handed the ball to Coutinho, whose right-footed strike from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection before nestling into the back of Oier's net.

But without Messi even to bring on, Levante withstood the late onslaught and should even have scored a sixth only for Ruben Rochina to prode wide after a awful backpass by Busquets.

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