Spanish La Liga

Levante 1-1 Barcelona

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport
Lionel Messi

Spanish champions Barcelona remain top of La Liga despite being held to a frustrating draw by stubborn Levante.

The home side, who were thumped 7-0 at the Nou Camp in August, led through defender Loukas Vyntra's early header.

Barca equalised shortly after in almost identical fashion when Spain defender Gerard Pique nodded in Xavi's corner.

Lionel Messi made his first La Liga start in two months following a hamstring injury, but could not inspire a winner for the visitors.

However, the Catalans remain ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal difference after they were unable to take advantage by beating Sevilla later on Sunday.

Both sides are now only one point ahead of third-placed Real Madrid, who eased to a 5-0 victory at Real Betis on Saturday.

Mid-table Levante were embarrassed by the Catalans on the opening weekend of the season, but produced a gutsy display against their illustrious visitors that was a stark contrast to their limp performance in Barcelona.

Barca boss Tata Martino insisted in the build up to Sunday's return game that the Valencia side would be a different proposition on their own patch - and so it proved.

Joaquin Caparros's side defended stoutly in numbers as they blunted a Barcelona attack including Messi, who started a league match for the first time since limping off at Real Betis on 10 November.

Levante v Barcelona

The Ballon d'Or runner-up netted twice but was almost anonymous in the first half before exerting more influence after the break.

The Argentine's clearest sight of the home goal came in a frantic second-half spell where he was twice denied from point-blank range by Levante keeper Keylor Navas, with veteran defender Juanfran clearing off the line from Xavi in-between.

The hosts had to stand firm against long periods of pressure throughout as Barcelona probed for a vital lead. Xavi firing a low shot wide shortly after Pique's opener, while Juanfran and Navas also came to the rescue to block further efforts from Messi and substitute Cristian Tello in the closing stages.

But Levante were not content to simply contain the visitors, instead causing problems of their own as they looked to pin Barca back with their neat attacking play.

The 11th-place side failed to win against any of the teams above them before the mid-season winter break and spurned late chances to end that unwanted record against the Catalans.

Wing-back Pedro Lopez smashed a volley wide before midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz's drive forced Barca keeper Victor Valdes into a flying save.

However, they will be more than happy with the deserved point earned by Vyntra's first goal in Spanish football. The Greece international put the home side ahead when he escaped marker Cesc Fabregas at Ivanschitz's corner to power an angled header past Valdes.

Within eight minutes Spain defender Pique climbed above the home defence to powerfully nod in Xavi's left-wing corner for the equaliser.

However, it was not enough as Barca dropped points for only the fourth time in 20 La Liga matches this season.



Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Navas
  • 6Vyntra
  • 15Karabelas
  • 24Mate Junior
  • 4Navarro
  • 12García GarcíaBooked at 89mins
  • 19López Muñoz
  • 23Diop
  • 11García SantosSubstituted forEl Adouaat 73'minutes
  • 8El ZharSubstituted forRodríguez Díazat 56'minutes
  • 21IvanschitzBooked at 82minsSubstituted forda Silva Pintoat 87'minutesBooked at 90mins


  • 9Rodríguez Díaz
  • 13Jiménez Camarero
  • 16El Adoua
  • 17Xumetra
  • 18da Silva Pinto
  • 20Ríos
  • 37Camarasa


Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Valdés
  • 2Montoya
  • 18Alba
  • 16Busquets
  • 3Piqué
  • 14MascheranoBooked at 34mins
  • 6HernándezSubstituted forDongouat 84'minutes
  • 4FábregasSubstituted forRoberto Carnicerat 73'minutes
  • 10Messi
  • 9Sánchez
  • 7PedroSubstituted forTelloat 77'minutes


  • 13Pinto Colorado
  • 15Bartra
  • 17Song
  • 20Tello
  • 21Correia
  • 24Roberto Carnicer
  • 29Dongou
Carlos del Cerro Grande

Match Stats

Home TeamLevanteAway TeamBarcelona
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Levante 1, Barcelona 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Levante 1, Barcelona 1.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Juanfran.

  4. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  5. Post update

    Javier Mascherano (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Ángel (Levante).

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sergio Pinto (Levante) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right from a direct free kick.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Sergi Roberto (Barcelona).

  9. Post update

    Pedro López (Levante) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Booking

    Juanfran (Levante) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  11. Post update

    Jean Marie Dongou (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Juanfran (Levante).

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cristian Tello.

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Pedro López (Levante) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pape Diop.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Levante. Sergio Pinto replaces Andreas Ivanschitz.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Keylor Navas.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Cristian Tello (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jordi Alba.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Barcelona. Jean Marie Dongou replaces Xavi.

  19. Booking

    Andreas Ivanschitz (Levante) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  20. Post update

    Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Sunday 19th January 2014

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