Levante 2-3 Barcelona: De Jong's header seals seventh straight LaLiga win
Barcelona sealed a seventh straight LaLiga win as Luuk de Jong's stoppage-time header earned a dramatic 3-2 victory over a Levante side who were awarded three penalties.
Jose Luis Morales' penalty seven minutes after the interval handed the hosts the lead, and they could have been 2-0 up moments later, yet Roger Marti's spot-kick was kept out by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Barcelona took advantage of that reprieve, moving 2-1 ahead within seven minutes of the miss thanks to goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pedri.
Levante thought they had claimed a point when Gonzalo Melero slammed home from the spot with seven minutes remaining, but substitute De Jong popped up in added time to claim yet another maximum-points haul for the Blaugrana.
Daniel Cardenas kept out Ferran Torres' powerful header at the start of the second period, before Morales slotted home from the spot after Dani Alves blocked Son's run in the penalty area.
Levante squandered the opportunity to double their advantage from 12 yards in the 56th minute, Ter Stegen keeping out Marti's spot-kick after the striker's header hit Eric Garcia's hand.
The home side were punished just three minutes later when an unmarked Aubameyang headed home Ousmane Dembele's cross from eight yards.
Pedri, who had only been on the pitch for seven minutes, put Barca ahead in the 63rd minute with a whipped strike from 15 yards after being teed up by fellow substitute Gavi.
Levante looked like they would secure a point when Melero powered home from the spot in the 83rd minute after Clement Lenglet tripped Dani Gomez in the area, just two minutes after coming off the bench.
There was still time for one late twist, though, as De Jong met Jordi Alba's left-wing cross with a superb header that flew past a helpless Cardenas in the second minute of stoppage time.
What does it mean? Barca made to work to maintain winning streak
This was one of the most chaotic games LaLiga has seen this season, yet Barca will scarcely care given they ultimately came out on top.
Xavi's men are on the longest unbeaten run of any side in Europe's top five leagues (P15 W11 D4), with this latest win moving them back up to second, albeit 12 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid who have played a game more. Levante, meanwhile, remain seven points away from safety in 19th.
Dembele in generous mood… again
Dembele has thrived under the guidance of Xavi and his superb run continued here. The France international has now provided nine assists since the turn of the year – the joint most in Europe's top five leagues in 2022 alongside Paris Saint-Germain's former Barcelona hero Lionel Messi.
Lenglet's blushes spared
Lenglet was introduced to ensure Barca could serenely see out their 2-1 lead, yet the defender inexplicably stood on Gomez's foot within two minutes of his introduction, allowing Melero to make it 2-2. The former Sevilla man will have breathed a huge sigh of relief when De Jong's late header hit the back of the net.
Key Opta facts
- Barcelona are the team against whom Levante have suffered the most defeats (24) and conceded the most goals (95) in their LaLiga history.
- Since 2017-18, Barcelona have conceded 13 away goals in five games against Levante in LaLiga, at least four more than against any other away opponent in the top-flight in this period.
- Barcelona had an expected goals (xG) tally of 0.16 in the first half against Levante, their worst in the first 45 minutes in the competition this season.
- Barcelona conceded a penalty for the first time in LaLiga this season, and then conceded two more. The last time they conceded a penalty in the competition had been in April 2021 against Getafe.
- Barcelona are the LaLiga team to win the most points this season from losing positions (16) and the team that have won most points after conceding the first goal of games in the competition (15).
- Pedri has scored three goals in his last five games in all competitions, as many as in his previous 46 games for the Catalonian side.
- Dembele has provided 11 assists in just 14 LaLiga appearances this season and is one away from equalling his best tally in a single top-flight campaign, achieved with Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 Bundesliga (12 in 32 games).
- Morales, who scored a brace in his side's 2-0 win over Villarreal last time out to take his tally for the season to nine goals, has now become the first Levante player to reach 10 goals in four different seasons in LaLiga in the 21st century after doing so in 2017-18 (10), 2018-19 (12) and 2020-21 (13).
Barca face Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday following last week's 1-1 draw. They then host Cadiz in LaLiga on the following Monday – a day after Levante visit Granada.