Barcelona suffer title blow as late Sergio Leon goal rescues point for Levante in six-goal thriller
La Liga, Ciudad de Valencia - Levante 3 (Melero 57', Morales 60', Leon 83') FC Barcelona 3 (Messi 25', Pedri 34', Dembele 64')
Levante's Spanish forward Sergio Leon celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match Levante UD against FC Barcelona at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Valencia on May 11, 2021
Barcelona missed yet another chance to go top of La Liga as Ronald Koeman’s twice threw away a lead to draw 3-3 against Levante.
The Catalans had previously spurned two different opportunities to hit the front of the Spanish title race, losing to Granada and drawing against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, and having led 2-0 and 3-2 they once again failed to move into first place.
Barcelona dominated from the start and broke the deadlock after 25 minutes when Lionel Messi guided a volley while falling backwards into the back of the net from a deflected Jordi Alba delivery into the box.
Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Levante UD against FC Barcelona at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Valencia on May 11, 2021.
Image credit: Getty Images
Pedri doubled his team’s advantage soon after, converting a Frenkie de Jong cut back having missed two good opportunities before that as Barcelona gave themselves a two-goal cushion.
However, Levante gained a foothold in the match 12 minutes into the second half when Gonzalo Melero got in front of substitute Sergi Roberto to head home a delivery from only a few yards out.
An incredible comeback by the home side was completed on the hour mark, with Jose Luis Morales making the most of some slack possession play by Barcelona to unleash a low finish.
Ousmane Dembele put Barcelona back in front just four minutes later, benefiting from the break of the ball on the edge of the opposition penalty area to power a strike past Aitor Fernandez.
This looked like being the winner until Sergio Leon came off the bench to net a third goal for Levante, beating Gerard Pique to a low cross to flick in at the near post. The point moves Barcelona up to second place, one point behind Atletico Madrid, but both Madrid clubs have a game in-hand.
TALKING POINT - Is this the end of Barcelona’s title challenge?
This season’s Spanish title race has been widely unpredictable, and it’s likely there will be more twists and turns over the final few fixtures, but was this the night that Barcelona finally dropped out of contention? An Atletico Madrid win over Real Sociedad tomorrow evening will put them four points ahead of Barca with just two games to go. It’s going to be difficult for Koeman and his players after what unfolded in Valencia.
Lionel Messi of Barcelona lament a failed occasion during the La Liga Santander match between Levante UD and FC Barcelona at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium on May 11, 2021 in Valencia, Spain.
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Jose Luis Morales (Levante)
Until half time, Morales had been quiet. However, the 33-year-old came to life in the second half, bagging the equaliser on the hour mark. Morales had failed to find the back of the net in 12 previous appearances against Barcelona, but the veteran forward made up for it this evening. He gave the Catalans’ defence all kinds of problems and along with Melero and Leon earned his side a point that means as much to Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid as it does to Levante.
Jose Luis Morales of Levante celebrates 2-2 with Enis Bardhi of Levante, De Frutos of Levante, Roger Marti of Levante during the La Liga Santander match between Levante v FC Barcelona at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia on May 11, 2021 in Valencia Spain
Barcelona - Ter Stegen 5, Alba 6, Pique 3, Lenglet 5, Araujo 4, De Jong 6, Busquets 5, Pedri 6, Dembele 7, Griezmann 5, Messi 7. Subs - Roberto 2, Braithwaite 3, Dest 4, Mingueza 4, Puig 3.
25’ GOAL! Levante 0-1 Barcelona: That's the goal Barcelona needed and Messi has found the back of the net! Alba got down the left side, his cross into the middle was deflected, the Argentine still had a lot to do with the finish, but he guided a finish while falling backwards past Aitor.
34’ GOAL! Levante 0-2 Barcelona: Barcelona have doubled their lead! Messi played Dembele down the right side, the Frenchman had the pace to beat his marker and then cut the ball back for Pedri to finish on the stretch into the back of the net! The Catalans now have a two-goal cushion!
57’ GOAL! Levante 1-2 Barcelona: Levante have given themselves a foothold in this match! The cross was played into the Barcelona box from the right side, Melero got ahead of Roberto and headed into the back of the net! Ter Stegen stood no chance with Melero so close!
60’ GOAL! Levante 2-2 Barcelona: Incredible! What is going on? From nowhere, Levante have scored twice at the start of this second half and they are level! Barcelona gave the ball away cheaply inside their own half and Morales makes them pay with an excellent low finish!
64’ GOAL! Levante 2-3 Barcelona: Dembele has lashed home a finish and Barcelona have the advantage again! Griezmann was tackled on the edge of the box with the ball falling to the French winger who struck an effort past Aitor! That was very well-taken by Dembele!
84’ GOAL! Levante 3-3 Barcelona: Levante have equalised for a second time! Just as it seemed like Barcelona might see this out, Dest allows Tono to get the cross in from the left wing and Leon was alert enough to get in front of his marker and flick home the finish at the near post!
Lionel Messi now has 23 goals in 21 games against Levante and has 21 goals in 18 games for Barcelona in 2021.
Ousmane Dembele has now scored 30 goals for Barcelona (all competitions) - 15 with his left foot and 15 with his right foot.