Barcelona’s ambition of becoming the first team to post an unbeaten 38-game LaLiga season lay in ruins following an astonishing 5-4 defeat by Levante at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia.
The hosts stormed into a 5-1 lead 11 minutes into the second half that was founded on the brilliance of Ghanaian Emmanuel Boateng, who plundered a hat-trick.
Levante, whose fifth win on the bounce caps a run that has steered them well clear of the relegation zone, capitalised on the double winners’ sloppiness with a succession of purposeful attacks that also produced two goals for Enis Bardhi.
Phillipe Coutinho inspired the inevitable fightback by helping himself to three goals, with Luis Suarez claiming the fourth from the spot, but the final breakthrough needed to maintain their unblemished record heading into the final match eluded them.
Tweet of the match
Star man – Emmanuel Boateng
On the strength of this clash, it was Emmanuel Boateng and not Ousmane Dembele who warrants a £135.5million price tag. The Ghana Under-20 international was sensational as he helped himself to a hat-trick against the champions. His pace, movement and strength was a constant threat as he became the first player to score a LaLiga hat-trick against Barcelona since Diego Forlan in 2005.
Stat of the day
2003 – the last time a team scored five goals against Barcelona.
Lionel Messi was missing from the Barcelona squad and how they needed their Argentina playmaker as they trailed 5-1 to a club that until recently had been threatened by relegation. Phillipe Coutinho stepped up to lead the fightback by firing a hat-trick in his best performance for the club since arriving from Liverpool, but the absence of their star player cost them.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 4, Semedo 4, Mina 5, Vermaelen 4, Alba 5, Rakitic 4, Busquets 5, Iniesta 6, Dembele 4, Suarez 6, Coutinho 8. Subs: Pique (on for Vermaelen, 31) 6, Denis (on for Iniesta, 60) 5, Alcacer (on for Dembele, 60) 5.
Levante: Oier 7, Coke 7, Roger 8, Postigo 7, Luna 8, Morales 9, Lukic 8, Campana 9, Bardhi 9, Marti 8, Boateng 9. Subs: Lerma (on for Roger, 69) 7, Pazzini (on for Boateng, 77) 7, Rochina (on for Morales, 85) 6.
Who’s up next?
Celta Vigo v Levante (LaLiga, May 19)
Barcelona v Real Sociedad (LaLiga, May 20)