Coutinho's hat trick not enough, Levante snaps Barcelona's unbeaten streak

By Alex Butler  |  May 13, 2018 at 6:09 PM
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May 13 (UPI) -- Philippe Coutinho's hat trick was not enough for Barcelona in a 5-4 loss to Levante Sunday at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia in Valencia, Spain.

The loss ended Barca's hopes of an undefeated season in La Liga. Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi did not play in the contest. Barca went down 5-1 before mounting a comeback, led by the Brazilian.

Forward Emmanuel Boateng gave Levante a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute, before doubling the score in the 30th minute. Boateng's second score came after he received a pass into the box from Sasa Lukic. Boateng got control of the ball as he faced up with Marc-Andre ter Stegen. He dribbled around the Barca keeper before netting the insurance.

Coutinho kept Barca in the game by scoring just eight minutes later. Gerard Pique passed on to Luis Suarez at the top of the Barca box on that play. Suarez tapped back to Coutinho. The Brazilian touched the ball over to his right foot, before blasting a 20 yard shot into the upper right corner of the net, beating Levante's Oier Olazabal in the 38th minute.

Midfielder Enis Bardhi gave Levante a 3-1 edge at the start of the second half. Bardhi took a pass from Jose Campana from the right side on the play. He bent a powerful shot past ter Stegen from more than 20 yards out in the 46th minute.

Boateng increased the lead to 4-1 and completed his hat trick in the 49th minute. Antonio Luna outpaced Barca defenders on that play, before leading Boateng into the box on the right side. Boateng used his first touch on the ball to beat ter Stegen into the far post netting.

Levante got more insurance seven minutes later, going up 5-1. Bardhi got his second score after Levante forward Roger Marti split the Barca defense with a beautiful through ball inside the box. Bardhi also beat ter Stegen to the far post.

Coutinho tried to get the La Liga champs back in the game a few minutes later. He started the rally after corralling a deflected shot from Ousmane Dembele. He blasted an attempt past Olazabal from about six yards out for Barca's second score of the match.

Coutinho converted again in the 64th minute. That time, he brought in a pass at the top of the box from Sergio Busquets. He did a quick turn, before whipping his right leg forward and beating Olazabal once again.

Suarez got Barca even closer with a penalty kick in the 70th minute, the after a foul was called for an in the box challenge on Busquets.

But Barca could not draw level in the final 20 minutes, giving the squad their first La Liga blemish in 36 games.

Barca's next match is against Real Sociedad at 2:45 p.m. Sunday, May 20 at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain.

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