Marc-Andre ter Stegen came up clutch while substitutes Pedri and Luuk de Jong made a big impact as Barcelona defeated Levante 3-2 in La Liga.
The game was off to a lively start as minnows Levante took the game to Barcelona at Estadio Ciutat de Valencia from the off with Jose Luis Morales seeing an effort drift just wide within a minute of kickoff. Frenkie de Jong saw a shot go over at the other end for Barça but it was the home team that came the closest to breaking the deadlock.
Morales was whiskers away from scoring a stunning solo goal after going on a mazy run only to see his strike saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The veteran striker was again denied in the first half by a vital goalline clearance from Eric Garcia as the two teams went into the break on level terms.
Seven minutes after the restart, Levante got their noses in front as Morales made no mistake from the penalty spot after Dani Alves fouled Son in the Barcelona box. Moments later, the Granotas were awarded another penalty by the referee for an unfortunate handball from Eric Garcia. But Roger Marti saw his spot-kick saved by ter Stegen, which sparked Barcelona into action.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalised in the 59th minute, heading home a cross from Ousmane Dembele. Minutes later the Catalan giants were in front, with substitutes Pedri and Gavi combining for the former to find the back of the net. But Levante were handed a way back in the 83rd minute as they were given a third penalty for a clumsy foul by Clement Lenglet, with Gonzalo Melero stepping up to restore parity.
As the minutes ticked by, it looked like the two teams would end up with the spoils shared. However, another Barcelona substitute, Luuk de Jong, had other ideas. Two minutes into the stoppage time, the Dutch forward hammered a header home to send manager Xavi Hernandez and the Barça fans into a frenzy, sealing a vital victory for his team.
The result means Barcelona reclaim the second spot in the table and stay alive in the La Liga title race, although Real Madrid have a 12-point lead at the top. Here are our player ratings for the Blaugrana stars from Sunday’s thrilling comeback victory against Levante.
Barcelona Player Ratings
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 9/10
Ter Stegen appreciation tweet. He was class today. ??? pic.twitter.com/1Kx240lj3c
— Ezenwanyi Camp Nou ?❤️ (@Jiji_Byte) April 10, 2022
The German international produced a brilliant save to deny Morales a certain goal in the first half. He backed it up with another stop to keep Roger Marti’s penalty at 1-0 to keep Barcelona in the game. At the same time, ter Stegen’s passing from the back was top-notch on Sunday night as he played some outrageous long balls, one of which even led to a chance for Ferran Torres.
Dani Alves: 4/10
A poor outing for the veteran defender, who made a mistake very early in the game to gift Morales an opportunity. Alves then conceded the penalty for a foul on Son from which Levante scored their opening goal. A disappointing return to the lineup.
Ronald Araujo: 7/10
The Barcelona defensive mainstay had a lot to do with Alves struggling on the right side but dealt with whatever came his way expertly. Araujo went about his job diligently and covered for the senior right-back regularly as well. He shifted to the right-back role late in the second period and did a decent job. Araujo got booked and will miss the next La Liga clash.
Eric Garcia: 7/10
The ex-Manchester City had some problems dealing with Roger Marti early on but grew into the game and coped well, even producing a vital goalline clearance in the 26th minute to keep the scoreline at 0-0. He also made several other important ball recoveries but gave away a penalty in the second half with a handball.
?[MD] | Eric Garcia continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The Barça centre-back had a remarkable performance against Levante, where he was key in defense and as always, excellent in playing out from the back. He also made a goal line clearance. #fcblive pic.twitter.com/OnvWbuvqNZ
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) April 11, 2022
Jordi Alba: 7/10
The veteran left-back has been playing relentlessly without a break and it showed on occasions on Sunday when some Levante players got past him on the flanks. Nonetheless, he held things together at the back and pushed forward with purpose, eventually getting the assist for Luuk de Jong’s winner.
Nico Gonzalez: 5/10
The 20-year-old was handed his first La Liga start in almost three months, and the lack of minutes showed as he failed to cope with the energy of his Levante counterparts in the first period. Nico never really looked like being able to make a difference on the night and was the first player to be subbed off.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
As usual, a lot of Barcelona’s play went through their captain as he kept things ticking along even under intense pressure from the Levante midfielders, who were full of intent. However, Busquets was unable to dictate the tempo like normal. But he did do his bit on the defensive side of things and was a composed presence.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
Reinstated to the starting XI, the Dutchman started well and offered an extra dimension to the team with his movement between the lines and ball-carrying ability. De Jong came close to scoring early in the game and looked like a bright spark. However, his influence faded with time. He was subbed off before the hour mark.
Ousmane Dembele: 7.5/10
?[OPTA] | Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé has provided the most assist in the Top 5 European Leagues in the 2022 year (nine, alongside Messi). #fcblive ?? pic.twitter.com/oDLc3A31lP
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) April 10, 2022
Back into the lineup, the Frenchman always carried a threat down the right flank with his pace and directness but could not make things happen in the first half. But stepped up after the break and created a chance for Ferran Torres before assisting Aubameyang for the equaliser with a fine cross from the right.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 7/10
Barcelona found it hard to feed the ball to him in the first period with Levante doing well to isolate the frontline. However, when he did get his first big chance of the game, Aubameyang made no mistake, diverting Dembele’s cross into the net for the equaliser.
Ferran Torres: 6.5/10
The Spaniard was sharp in his movement, as usual, and had Barcelona’s only two efforts on goal in the first half. He came close to scoring early in the second period but saw his effort being brilliantly saved by the Levante goalkeeper.
Back-to-back go-ahead goals in La Liga for Pedri ? pic.twitter.com/H0NGPvFIQm
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 10, 2022
Such a difference the teenager makes for this Barcelona side. Pedri came on for Nico in the 56th minute, and things livened up for the visitors in attack almost immediately. The Spaniard played a part in the first goal for the Catalans before putting them in front with a sweeping finish that made it 2-1. Just brilliant.
He came on for Frenkie de Jong just before the hour mark and added a sense of urgency and intensity on the field. Gavi pressed hard, drove forward with the ball and generally looked very bright. Got the assist for the second goal after a fine run – his sixth assist in La Liga this term.
Clement Lenglet: 2/10
Lenglet replaced Alves for the final ten minutes and gifted Levante a way back into the game by conceding a calamitous penalty soon after coming on.
Luuk de Jong: 8/10
Luuk de Jong this season:
– 92nd-minute winner vs Levante
– 96th-minute equaliser vs Espanyol
– Equaliser vs Real Madrid
– Opener vs Granada
– Winner vs Mallorca pic.twitter.com/TxgUZGDuj1
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) April 10, 2022
While players staying on the pitch for less than 15 minutes are not usually given a rating, Luuk de Jong’s contribution to the victory earns him an 8/10. He has done it on several occasions this season and was once again at hand to fire home a header to win it Barcelona late in the game.
Adama Traore: N/A
On for Dembele and did little of note.
Nico should be giving more minutes