LALIGA | LEVANTE 0-2 BARCELONA
Barça beat a stubborn Levante to open up three-point gap
Los Culés beat bottom-placed Levante to move clear at the top. Navarro’s own goal gave them the lead and Suárez made sure in the dying seconds.
After the exhibition football that saw Barcelona destroy Valencia in the Copa del Rey, Luis Enrique’s men came back down to earth as they came up against a stubborn Levante that refused to let the visitors have it all their own way.
Barcelona reverted back to the kind of performance they put in against Málaga, where the result (a 2-1) was far superior to the display on the pitch. This game left the impression that Barcelona’s fixture pile-up may be taking its toll, mentally not physically. Luis Enrique's side proved they can match any side physically over the course of 90 minutes, but there's something not quite right, something that just isn't clicking.
They set out to make their mark on the game early doors, but after a Messi goal was disallowed for offside, Levante showed they had the sufficient mettle to make life more than uncomfortable in the bright Valencian sunshine. The opening goal came with some fortune as a cross from the left careered in off David Navarro’s backside after 21 minutes. Yet that stroke of bad lack brought the home side to life and Barcelona sliding the other way. Levante created a number of chances, hitting the post and keeping Bravo busy, so much so that Barça will have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle blown.
In the second half the contest lasted as long as Levante’s legs would take them, and as long as it took Luis Enrique to bring on Sergio Busquets, who had been given well-deserved rest after starting 17 of the last 20 games. The energy coursing through Sandoval's side in the first half gradually began to drain away as Barcelona began to exert control and waited to hit them on the counter.
Their patience was rewarded after 90 minutes as Messi broke away with the ball on the right and fed Luis Suárez, who finished with the outside of his right boot, showing his ruthless streak once again. Of course, results are what count and despite the apparent cracks appearing in this win Barcelona move three points clear of Atlético at the top of the table.
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