After securing a 4-1 lead in the first leg over Levante in Valencia, Barcelona was able to comfortably bring the tie to a successful end at the Camp Nou. All goals were scored by Barcelona players, though Sergi Roberto's was scored into his own net. Barça were led by Alexis Sanchez's brace, but also got goals from Adriano Correia, Carles Puyol and Cesc Fabregas.
Shots on Target
Gerardo Martino continued with his rotation policy, with just two players that started over the weekend against Malaga, Cesc and Alexis, started the second leg against Levante. That's right, nine changes were made by Tata Martino to the starting line-up, with Dani Alves, Xavi and Sergio Busquets not even being named to the bench.
Quickly after the opening whistle Barcelona seized control of the ball. Just four minutes in, good link-up almost led to Barcelona taking the lead through Cristian Tello. Alexis sent a beautiful cross into the danger area from the right side where Javi Jimenez was able to collect it just before Tello would've surely headed the ball in.
Tello had another chance the following minute after Issam El Adoua coughed up the ball, but Jimenez closed down the space well and made a good save. On the next play, while shielding the ball for a goal kick, Adriano went down and from his reaction it did not appear likely that he would return. With his injury history that wouldn't have been even the slightest surprise, but he was able to shake it off and return to the pitch.
The few fans at the soaking wet Camp Nou didn't need to wait long for the first goal of the game. Just nine minutes in Levante won a corner kick after a clear offside was missed by the linesman. Another bad call, a no-call to be exact, was made on the corner kick itself as Loukas Vyntra clearly pulled Carles Puyol down which allowed the Greek international to win the header and "expertly" bounce the ball off Sergi Roberto's back and into the net.
Barcelona didn't look very dangerous in attack in the early going, but whenever a chance was created it seemed to go through Alexis. For example the Chilean was in the thick of it in the 17th minute when great link-up between him and Martin Montoya created a chance for Roberto in the middle. However, the midfielder's cross was blocked for a corner kick that resulted in cross that overshot everybody.
After a roughly ten minute stretch in which neither team created literally nothing, Adriano, out of nowhere, produced one of his so missed golazo's. He received the ball after an innocent back-pass from Andres Iniesta, but what followed was anything but innocent. Without hesitation Adriano fired from 25 yards out and gave Jimenez no chance to keep the accurate shot from leveling the score.
Barcelona allowed very little to Levante in the remaining time of the first half, but they also struggled to punch through the well organized defense. But then, in the 44th minute, from a corner kick of all plays, they took the lead. Puyol was able to run into Tello's perfectly placed corner kick and headed the ball home to score his first goal since 16 January of last year.
Neither team was able to threaten to change the score in the remaining time, though both got into their opponents penalty area in the little time that was left. The score therefore remained 2-1 in favor of Barcelona, resulting in a 6-2 lead on aggregate for the Catalans with juts 45 minutes to play.
Barcelona made a substitution during halftime and again it was Iniesta who only played a single half against Levante. However, this time he wasn't forced off because of injury, he was taken off to be rested for more important matches. Because he was replaced by a forward, Pedro, Cesc moved to Iniesta's midfield position while Alexis moved to the False Nine spot.
It didn't take Barcelona long to double the lead. In the 50th minute Tello played a brilliant through pass to Montoya who somehow found himself all alone in the middle(!). At this point I'm not sure if he tried to pass the ball or lob the keeper, but either way the ball found itss way through the hands of Jimenez to Alexis who simply tapped the ball into the empty net.
Alexis would add another one barely over a minute later, but again the play was started by Tello who fired a shot from 20-yards out. On the way through the defense it deflected off a defender which forced Jimenez to make a brilliant save. The ball then bounced off the crossbar and stopped about two feet from the Levante goalkeeper. Knowing where the player were Jimenez showed little urgency to cover the ball, but he underestimated Alexis' speed who got there first to collect his second goal of the game.
Equaling the score from the first leg after just 52 minutes Barcelona didn't take their foot of the gas. They continued to create chances with Levante now opened up a bit. Alexis looked especially lively looking to complete the hat-trick, causing all kinds of problems to Jimenez who struggled to even clear the ball past the Chilean.
Meanwhile Pedro also attempted to join the goal-fest, but his shot was well saved by Jimenez. Instead it was Cesc who was actually got on the scoreboard in the 69th minute. Alexis found Cesc on the right side of the box, who was able to create enough space to take the shot that found its way through the legs of Juanfran and surprised Jimenez, who appeared to be in a decent position to make the save. But the ball ended up in the back of the net and Cesc immediately went off the pitch as he was replaced by Ibrahim Afellay.
In the 78th minute Tata Martino made his last substitution, one that caused many players shift their positions as it was Javier Mascherano who replaced Alexis. Mascherano played the last roughly 15 minutes as the defensive midfielder as Alex Song moved a bit forward and took Roberto's spot who moved even further and became Barcelona's third False Nine of the match.
After scoring the fifth goal of the game Barça didn't play with the same urgency in attack as they did before, something they usually do unless the opponent reduces the lead. Barcelona was able to showcase some good looking passing plays that could've resulted in a scoring chance, but with few people trying to get open Jimenez goal wasn't threatened again and Barcelona advanced to the Semi-Final with a 9-2 aggregate win. The Catalans will have to wait until tomorrow to find out who their opponent will be, though Real Sociedad hold a 3-1 lead from the first leg which was played at the Anoeta.
Barça will play their next game again at home, against Valencia, who will try to spoil Barcelona's incredible run at the top of the La Liga standings. The game will be played at a rather unfamiliar time spot as kickoff will be a 4pm CET on Saturday.
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