Spanish La Liga
Levante1Barcelona1

Levante 1-1 Barcelona

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.

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.

Line-ups

Levante

  • 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

Substitutes

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

Barcelona

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

Substitutes

  • 13Pinto Colorado
  • 15Bartra
  • 17Song
  • 20Tello
  • 21Adriano
  • 24Sergi
  • 29Dongou
Referee:
Carlos del Cerro Grande
Attendance:
24,063

Match Stats

Home TeamLevanteAway TeamBarcelona
Possession
Home26%
Away74%
Shots
Home7
Away17
Shots on Target
Home4
Away6
Corners
Home2
Away8
Fouls
Home13
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Levante 1, Barcelona 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Levante 1, Barcelona 1.
Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Juanfran.
Attempt blocked. Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Javier Mascherano (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ángel (Levante).
Attempt missed. Sergio Pinto (Levante) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right from a direct free kick.
Foul by Sergi Roberto (Barcelona).
Pedro López (Levante) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Booking

Juanfran (Levante) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jean Marie Dongou (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Juanfran (Levante).
Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cristian Tello.
Attempt saved. Pedro López (Levante) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pape Diop.

Substitution

Substitution, Levante. Sergio Pinto replaces Andreas Ivanschitz.
Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Keylor Navas.
Attempt saved. Cristian Tello (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jordi Alba.

Substitution

Substitution, Barcelona. Jean Marie Dongou replaces Xavi.

Booking

Andreas Ivanschitz (Levante) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Andreas Ivanschitz (Levante).
Gerard Piqué (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nikos Karabelas (Levante).

Substitution

Substitution, Barcelona. Cristian Tello replaces Pedro.
Attempt saved. Andreas Ivanschitz (Levante) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Simao.
Offside, Levante. Juanfran tries a through ball, but Ángel is caught offside.
Offside, Levante. Andreas Ivanschitz tries a through ball, but Nikos Karabelas is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Pedro with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Barcelona. Sergi Roberto replaces Francesc Fábregas.

Substitution

Substitution, Levante. Issam El Adoua replaces Rubén García because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Rubén García (Levante) because of an injury.
Attempt saved. Andreas Ivanschitz (Levante) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Rubén García with a cross.
Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Pape Diop.
Corner, Levante. Conceded by Martín Montoya.
Attempt blocked. Pedro López (Levante) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nikos Karabelas with a cross.
Foul by Lionel Messi (Barcelona).
David Navarro (Levante) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona).
Rubén García (Levante) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Hand ball by Ángel (Levante).
Foul by Gerard Piqué (Barcelona).
Juanfran (Levante) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Juanfran.
Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordi Alba.
Offside, Barcelona. Xavi tries a through ball, but Lionel Messi is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Xavi (Barcelona) right footed shot from very close range is blocked.
Attempt saved. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Offside, Barcelona. Lionel Messi tries a through ball, but Francesc Fábregas is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Levante. Ángel replaces Nabil El Zhar.
Attempt missed. Xavi (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.
Attempt saved. Francesc Fábregas (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Pedro.
Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Nikos Karabelas.
Offside, Barcelona. Xavi tries a through ball, but Alexis Sánchez is caught offside.
Offside, Barcelona. Francesc Fábregas tries a through ball, but Pedro is caught offside.
Xavi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Simao (Levante).
Attempt missed. Martín Montoya (Barcelona) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Second Half

Second Half begins Levante 1, Barcelona 1.

Half Time

First Half ends, Levante 1, Barcelona 1.
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
goal