Barcelona extended their La Liga winning streak to seven games and will finish the weekend second in the table thanks to a wild 3-2 victory over Levante in one of the craziest matches of the season. Barça played well below their standards and suffered against an inspired Levante team, and despite allowing three penalties the Blaugrana somehow came away with all three points thanks to an injury time winner by Luuk De Jong.
Barça’s first half performance was hugely disappointing. The Blaugrana played with zero intensity and struggled from the very beginning with Levante’s man-to-man marking scheme, and they never managed to find rhythm in possession and kept losing the ball in bad positions. Levante were excellent and the better team with and without the ball, and AJ Morales was unplayable up front.
Morales almost scored a Goal of the Season contender after running through the entire Barça defense and almost walking the ball into the net, but Eric García made a huge clearance off the line. Levante deserved to go ahead, and were never in trouble at the back thanks to a slow, unimaginative Barça attack.
At halftime a goalless game was very much still up for grabs, and Barça needed to get a lot better in the second half.
There was no improvement from Barça to start the final period, and Levante finally got the goal they deserved: after Son went down in the box and Dani Alves was called for a penalty, Morales stepped up to the spot and sent Marc-André ter Stegen the wrong way to give the home team the lead.
Things almost went from bad to worse for Barça just five minutes later when Eric García was called for a handball in the box and Roger Martí had a chance to double the lead from the spot, but Ter Stegen stepped up in a huge way and made a crucial save to keep Barça alive.
Just seconds after Ter Stegen’s save, another game-changer: Pedri and Gavi came off the bench to make a giant impact as substitutes, increasing the pace and intensity of Barça’s play in midfield and instantly turning the visitors into a better, more dangerous team.
And a five-minute span was all it took for Barça to take the lead: first was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who headed home a perfect cross from Ousmane Dembélé to score the equalizer, then Gavi went on a sensational solo run through three defenders and set up Pedri who found the bottom corner with a perfect finish to put Barça in front.
Barça couldn’t capitalize on the momentum from the two goals and didn’t put Levante away, and the home team continued to push for a late equalizer. And they got a golden chance when Clément Lenglet came off the bench, made a stupid challenge on Dani Gómez inside the box and gave Levante a third penalty on the night. Gonzalo Melero stepped up to the spot, found the bottom corner and made it 2-2 with 10 minutes to go.
Levante weren’t content with just a point and continued to attack looking for the winner, which made the dying seconds absolutely wild as both teams were wide open at the back as they kept counter-attacking each other with reckless abandon. And just as it seemed like we were headed for a draw, Barça’s Super Sub came to the rescue: Big Luuk De Jong was sent from the bench to head home a perfect cross from Jordi Alba in injury time to give Barça the lead again.
The final whistle came to end one of the wildest, most entertaining matches of the La Liga season that somehow, someway ends with a Barça victory. They never played well enough to deserve all three points and this is a cruel result for Levante, but Xavi’s team will never give up. What a win!
Levante: Cárdenas; Rober, Postigo, Vezo (Cantero 76’); Miramón, Pepelu, Campaña (Melero 65’), Son; Radoja (Bardhi 76’); Roger (Gómez 65’), Morales (Pubill 90’)
Goals: Morales (pen 52’), Melero (pen 83’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves (Lenglet 81’), Araujo, Eric, Alba; Nico (Pedri 57’), Busquets, F. De Jong (Gavi 57’); Dembélé (Adama 84’), Aubameyang (L. De Jong 84’), Ferran
Goals: Aubameyang (59’), Pedri (63’), L. De Jong (90+2’)