La Liga

Levante 2-3 Barcelona: Player ratings as Blaugrana edge enthralling clash

Max Parsons
Barcelona won a thrilling game against Levante
Barcelona won a thrilling game against Levante / JOSE JORDAN/GettyImages

Barcelona worked hard to earn a stunning late 3-2 victory over Levante on Sunday night, moving them back into second place in the La Liga table.

Looking far from a relegation candidate, the hosts pushed their star-studded visitors to the wire, matching them as they played their part in a captivating game of football, rather unjustly coming away with nothing to show for their tireless efforts.

In the end, though, Xavi Hernandez's side's quality told as goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Pedri and Luuk de Jong were enough to render penalties from Jose Luis Morales and Gonzalo Melero irrelevant.

The tone for a pulsating game was set within the opening stages, with both sides seeing goalmouth action early on; Levante marksman Jose Luis Morales was almost gifted a goal by Dani Alves after 20 seconds only to put his effort just wide, while Frenkie de Jong also went close with a curling effort that sailed just over the bar after a couple of minutes.

The fantastically frenetic start to proceedings didn't subside but, despite Morales almost scoring a Puskas Award contender - weaving his way through Barcelona and only being denied a solo classic by the hand of Ter Stegen and an Eric Garcia goal-line clearance - among other notable chances for both sides, the referee blew for the interval with the scoreline poised at 0-0.

Half-time did nothing to blunt the game's frenzied nature, with plenty of incidents within five minutes of the restart. Torres was unfortunate not to break the deadlock with a bullet header that was brilliantly saved by Dani Cardenas, only for Levante to be awarded a penalty seconds after.

Alves was the guilty party, tripping up Son in the 18-yard box, before Morales stepped up and finally secured a well-deserved goal.

Five minutes later, the hosts found themselves with another opportunity from 12 yards. In the centre of a rowdy defensive huddle, Eric Garcia was desperately unlucky to have a header hit his raised arm, giving the referee no choice but to point at the spot. This time, however, Morales passed the buck to strike partner Roger, who saw his effort kept out by Ter Stegen.

Quite predictably, Barcelona drew level three minutes later. Ousmane Dembele was once again at the heart of the move, delivering a pin-point cross into the area from the right-hand side which was gratefully nodded in by Aubameyang to level just before the hour mark.

With the wind in their sails, it didn't take long for Xavi's men to pull ahead.

On 62 minutes, the substitute pairing of Gavi and Pedri combined beautifully to put the visitors in the lead. Picking the ball up on the left, Gavi twisted his way into the area before pulling back for Barça prodigy Pedri, who swept the ball into Cardenas' bottom corner with aplomb.

The drama was not over there, though. Incredibly, the home side was awarded yet another penalty with just under ten minutes left on the clock, when substitute Clement Lenglet put in a criminally clumsy challenge on Alejandro Cantero immediately after entering the field of play.

Stepping up for his side's third spot kick of the night, Gonzalo Melero made no mistake in firing the ball into ter Stegen's bottom corner and setting up a tense ending.

It was another of Xavi's substitutes that sealed a dramatic finale to the game, as De Jong came off the bench to prove the breaker of Levante hearts and the winner of a brilliant game of football.

The Dutchman was on hand to head home Jordi Alba's inch-perfect cross in the second minute of stoppage time, securing a pivotal result in the race for second spot and sending everyone of a Barcelona persuasion wild.

Here's how the players rated...

Barcelona player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) - 8/10 - Produced a couple of ridiculous passes through the opposition (à la Ederson) and was brilliant between the sticks, saving well on several occasions and keeping a penalty out.

Dani Alves (RB) - 4/10 -
His terrible mistake within seconds of the first whistle was an indication of how his evening were going to pan out - nothing really came off for him, culminating in the penalty-conceding foul.

Ronald Araujo (CB) - 7/10 - Stoic and ever-present on the back foot, stifling any Levante hope with his diligent covering in behind the marauding Alves.

Eric Garcia (CB) - 8/10 - Read play well and defended resiliently, making eight ball recoveries, and made a crucial goal-saving intervention to deny Morales at 0-0. A fantastic performance only lightly soiled by an unavoidable handball.

Jordi Alba (CB) - 7/10 - Defensively sound and popped up with a vital assist for the match-winning goal.

2. Midfielders

Sergio Busquets (DM) - 6/10 - Always there to mop up and keep things ticking along for his side - as per usual.

Frenkie de Jong (CM) - 5/10 - Showed great, attack-minded movement between the lines early on but his influence and effectiveness waned somewhat. Subbed before the hour mark.

Nico Gonzalez (CM) - 5/10 - Pedri's quality is really highlighted when he's not in the side; Nico was neat and tidy and occasionally progressive, but he was far from game-changing.

3. Forwards

Ousmane Dembele, Jose Campana, Pepelu
Ousmane Dembele in full flight / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Ousmane Dembele (RW) - 7/10 - Made some fantastic bursts forward and looked untouchable at times. Sumptuous cross to assist his side's equaliser.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST) - 7/10 - Very little service in the first half but made use of his first chance of the night to draw Barca level.

Ferran Torres (LW) - 5/10 -
Squandered a good opportunity in the first half and was desperately unlucky to see a good header saved early in the second period, although didn't exactly deserve a goal, putting in a generally uninspiring display.

4. Substitutes

Pedri (CM) - 9/10 - Just so, so good; effortlessly creative and naturally influential, he's simply pivotal. Finished wonderfully for his side's second.

Gavi (CM) - 7/10 - From his pressing to his electric feet and dribbling, Gavi provided a shot of dynamism and energy, notably getting a brilliant assist for Pedri.

Clement Lenglet (CB) - 1/10 - Oh, dear. A very instant impact, anyway.

Luuk de Jong (ST) - 8/10 - A brilliant header to do exactly what Xavi asked of him.