Levante 5-4 Barcelona: Catalans' unbeaten run comes to an end in nine-goal thriller
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 14/05/18 10:12am
Barcelona's hopes of obtaining 'Invincible' status came crashing to an end as Levante held on to secure a stunning 5-4 win at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia.
Philippe Coutinho struck a hat-trick (38, 59, 64), but it was not enough as the La Liga champions' hopes of going the season unbeaten ended in their penultimate match.
Emmanuel Boateng scored a treble for the hosts (9, 30, 49), adding to Enis Bardhi's double (46, 56) as Ernesto Valverde's side lost for the first time in 43 league matches.
A Luis Suarez penalty (71) set up a frantic finale, but Levante clung on to a famous victory to end Barcelona's dream of writing their name into the history books.
Levante: Oier (7), Pier (6), Luna (6), Lukic (7), Postigo (6), Morales (8), Campana (7), Coke (7), Roger (7), Bardhi (8), Boateng (9)
Subs: Lerma (6), Rochina (6), Pazzini (6)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (5), Semedo (5), Alba (5), Mina (4), Vermaelen (4), Busquets (6), Rakitic (6), Iniesta (6), Dembele (6), Coutinho (8), Suarez (7).
Subs: Pique (6), Denis Suárez (6), Alcacer (6)
Man of the match: Emmanuel Boateng
The hosts produced a superb attacking performance and went ahead inside 10 minutes when Jose Luis Morales' cross was converted by Boateng before the Ghanaian latched onto Sasa Lukic's pass to round Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to double his tally on 30 minutes.
Barcelona were stunned but eight minutes later, Coutinho handed them a foothold in the game as the Brazilian took Suarez's pass before firing past Oier Olazabal via a deflection off the unfortunate Rober Pier.
But Levante restored their two-goal lead just 33 seconds into the second half as Enis Bardhi received Jose Campana's through-ball to slot past Ter Stegen.
Levante manager Francisco Jose Lopez Fernandez made three changes despite his side's impressive 3-0 win at Leganes. Sasa Lukic and Rober Pier replaced Jose Manuel Rodriguez Benito and Jefferson Lerma while Roger came for Jason. There was no Lionel Messi for Barcelona. Luis Suarez led the line with Ivan Rakitic, Jordi Alba and Yerry Mina replacing Paulinho, Lucas Digne and Gerard Pique from the side that beat Villarreal 5-1 in midweek.
Things got increasingly worse for the La Liga champions as Boateng completed his hat-trick four minutes later after finishing from Antonio Luna's cross and Bardhi incredibly made it 5-1 after being put through by Roger.
But Barcelona showed their mental strength to score two quick-fire goals as Coutinho first converted after Ousmane Dembele's shot deflected off Pier into this path, before he completed his hat-trick when firing in via a deflection.
Barcelona threatened to secure a sensational comeback after Sergio Busquets was fouled inside the box by Boateng, allowing Suarez to reduce the deficit to just one goal with 19 minutes remaining.
Suarez missed a glorious chance to equalise as he headed wide from Denis Suarez's cross but Levante stood firm.
Man of the match - Emmanuel Boateng
On the greatest night in Levante's 108-year history, Boateng led the way with his three strikes, becoming the first player to score a hat-trick against Barcelona since Diego Forlan achieved the feat with Villarreal back in May 2005.
His tireless running constantly stretched the Barca defence, and he capitalised on the visitors being temporarily down to 10 men to score his second of the night, with Thomas Vermaelen off the pitch injured.
The Ghanaian received a fully deserved standing ovation as he departed in the 77th minute having given Barcelona one of their most uncomfortable evenings of the season.
Levante complete their La Liga season with a trip to face Celta Vigo at noon on Saturday while Barcelona host Real Sociedad on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football.