Messi & Suarez miss Copa del Rey tie at Levante

Ruben Hill
January 11, 2019

Memories of the 5-4 thriller at Ciutat de Valencia last season that cost Ernesto Valverde's men an unbeaten LaLiga campaign came flooding back during an end-to-end first half in which Levante thrived.

FC Barcelona suffered a narrow defeat at Levante, while Sevilla registered three away goals in Thursday's Copa del Rey round of 16 action.

Jeison Murillo and Chumi, afforded opportunities amid a raft of Barca changes, floundered at the heart of defence and the hosts took full advantage, storming to an early two-goal advantage thanks to Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral.

But a late penalty from Philippe Coutinho gave Barcelona a foothold in the tie ahead of the second leg at the Nou Camp next week.

The Granotas piled on the pressure, as Emmanuel Boateng's effort was saved by Jasper Cillessen, and deservedly doubled their lead after 17 minutes.

Substitute Jose Luis Morales spurned a glorious chance to strike a third goal for the home side which would have seriously damaged Barca's hopes of staying in the competition.

Barcelona threatened, Malcom and Ousmane Dembele forcing saves from Aitor Fernandez, but failed to create any clear-cut chances in the first half.

Reported Arsenal target Denis Suarez came on and got his side back into the contest by winning a penalty as he was upended by Coke after dribbling into the area.

What does it mean?

The visitors opted to rest Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen for the first leg.

The Catalans have emerged successful in each of the last four editions of the Copa del Rey and there is no reason to believe them into not being favourites this time out. The defending champions of the Spanish Cup will be looking to take the tension with them to Catalonia at the end of ninety minutes and the omens are good for them to do so.

Colombia worldwide Murillo has voiced a desire to turn his short-term stay into a permanent deal - which Barca can push through for €25million - but his first 90 minutes in the shirt did not do much to advance that cause.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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