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Levante ends Barcelona's unbeaten season

14 May, 2018, 06:37 | Author: Candice Daniels
  • Lionel Messi

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde defended his decision to rest Lionel Messi in the 5-4 loss at Levante that ended his side's chance to become the first La Liga team to finish a season unbeaten in the modern era.

Coutinho reduced the deficit three minutes later from close range and completed his first Barca treble with 26 minutes left with another deflected effort from range. Luis Suarez converted a penalty to make it 5-4 in the 71st.

A poor giveaway from Jordi Alba at the start of the second half was all Jose Campana needed, as he picked up the ball and teed up Bardhi, who smashed home from 20 yards for another Levante goal.

A controversial penalty was awarded Barcelona when Busquets was deemed to have been brought down with minimal contact by substitute Jefferson Lerma, and Luis Suarez blasted through the middle, to nearly complete the comeback at 5-4.

Barely ten minutes later and the home side were well and truly in dreamland with a hat-trick for Boateng as he finished a ball from Luna who had pounced on a flick from Roger Marti.

After drawing at home to Real Madrid last weekend, despite playing the second half with 10 men, and thrashing Villarreal, Barcelona sat just two games away from the historical feat.

The five-time Ballon d'Or victor was left at home to rest while Barcelona's record-breaking 43-game unbeaten streak in the league was snapped by the hosts in the Catalan's penultimate fixture of the 2017-18 campaign.

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Barca hadn't conceded three times in any match this season, but let in five on this occasion.

For Levante, this is their eighth win in 10 matches under new coach Paco Lopez, who took charge with the club in danger of relegation but has overseen a remarkable transformation.

"To score five goals against Barcelona is nearly impossible, but our motto all week has been "nothing is impossible" and we have achieved something historic", Lopez said.

But even when Gerard Pique went on for the injured Vermaelen in the 31st with Barcelona trailing 2-0, the team's defensive troubles continued.

Coutinho pulled one back with a long strike that took a deflection off a defender in the 38th, but Boateng struck again while Bardhi got his two goals to build what proved to be an insurmountable lead. Suarez then had the spot kick after Boateng fouled Sergio Busquets while defending a corner kick.

"It's shame to lose [the chance of an unbeaten season], but don't forget that we've won the league".

Barca sealed the league title two weeks ago, completing a domestic double that included the Copa del Rey crown, but Valverde had set his sights on a "historic" unbeaten campaign.

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