Levante lead Barcelona ahead of second leg after surprise win

Posted Friday, January 11, 2019 by PA

Levante lead Barcelona ahead of second leg after surprise win

Barcelona suffered a shock 2-1 defeat in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey last-16 tie at Levante.

Early goals from Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral were enough to give Levante victory over the defending champions.

But a late penalty from Philippe Coutinho gave Barcelona a foothold in the tie ahead of the second leg at the Nou Camp next week.

Levante lead Barcelona ahead of second leg after surprise win
Levante defender Erick Cabaco, right, headed Levante into an early lead (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Barcelona thrashed Levante 5-0 at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia in LaLiga on December 16, with Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick, but he was among those omitted from a much-changed Barcelona side.

Ernesto Valverde handed a debut to new signing Jeison Murillo, as well a first start for Coutinho since the Champions League clash with Tottenham.

Levante, who did enjoy a 5-4 LaLiga win over Barcelona last season, were ahead after just four minutes through Cabaco as the defender rose highest to nod in Ruben Rochina’s free-kick from six yards.

The Granotas piled on the pressure, as Emmanuel Boateng’s effort was saved by Jasper Cillessen, and deservedly doubled their lead after 17 minutes.

On-loan Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral was played through by Boateng and fired low across goal into the far corner.

Barcelona threatened, Malcom and Ousmane Dembele forcing saves from Aitor Fernandez, but failed to create any clear-cut chances in the first half.

Levante lead Barcelona ahead of second leg after surprise win
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde named a much-changed side (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Valverde introduced Sergi Roberto in place of youngster Miranda at half-time, but Levante continue to offer the greater threat, forcing Cillessen to deny Mayoral and then Moses Simon after the restart.

Moments after coming on as a substitute, Jose Luis Morales had the chance to make it 3-0 but lifted over the goal when clear through against Cillessen.

Reported Arsenal target Denis Suarez came on and got his side back into the contest by winning a penalty as he was upended by Coke after dribbling into the area.

Coutinho stepped up and buried the penalty into the bottom corner to score his sixth goal of the season.

Barcelona pushed for the equaliser and came close late on through Dembele, but his strike was well saved by Fernandez as Levante secured an advantage from the first leg.

The second leg takes place at the Nou Camp next Thursday.


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