Levante 2-3 Barcelona: Luuk de Jong's stoppage-time header seals seventh straight LaLiga win


Luuk de Jong's last-gasp header helped Barcelona overcome a spirited Levante and move back up to second place in LaLiga.
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Barcelona sealed a seventh straight LaLiga win as Luuk de Jong's stoppage-time header earned a dramatic 3-2 victory over a Levante side who were awarded three penalties.

Jose Luis Morales' penalty seven minutes after the interval handed the hosts the lead, and they could have been 2-0 up moments later, yet Roger Marti's spot-kick was kept out by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona took advantage of that reprieve, moving 2-1 ahead within seven minutes of the miss thanks to goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pedri.

Levante thought they had claimed a point when Gonzalo Melero slammed home from the spot with seven minutes remaining, but substitute De Jong popped up in added time to claim yet another maximum-points haul for the Blaugrana.

Daniel Cardenas kept out Ferran Torres' powerful header at the start of the second period, before Morales slotted home from the spot after Dani Alves blocked Son's run in the penalty area.

Levante squandered the opportunity to double their advantage from 12 yards in the 56th minute, Ter Stegen keeping out Marti's spot-kick after the striker's header hit Eric Garcia's hand.

The home side were punished just three minutes later when an unmarked Aubameyang headed home Ousmane Dembele's cross from eight yards.

Pedri, who had only been on the pitch for seven minutes, put Barca ahead in the 63rd minute with a whipped strike from 15 yards after being teed up by fellow substitute Gavi.

Levante looked like they would secure a point when Melero powered home from the spot in the 83rd minute after Clement Lenglet tripped Dani Gomez in the area, just two minutes after coming off the bench.

There was still time for one late twist, though, as De Jong met Jordi Alba's left-wing cross with a superb header that flew past a helpless Cardenas in the second minute of stoppage time.

What does it mean? Barca made to work to maintain winning streak

This was one of the most chaotic games LaLiga has seen this season, yet Barca will scarcely care given they ultimately came out on top.

Xavi's men are on the longest unbeaten run of any side in Europe's top five leagues (P15 W11 D4), with this latest win moving them back up to second, albeit 12 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid who have played a game more. Levante, meanwhile, remain seven points away from safety in 19th.

Dembele in generous mood… again

Dembele has thrived under the guidance of Xavi and his superb run continued here. The France international has now provided nine assists since the turn of the year – the joint most in Europe's top five leagues in 2022 alongside Paris Saint-Germain's former Barcelona hero Lionel Messi.

Lenglet's blushes spared

Lenglet was introduced to ensure Barca could serenely see out their 2-1 lead, yet the defender inexplicably stood on Gomez's foot within two minutes of his introduction, allowing Melero to make it 2-2. The former Sevilla man will have breathed a huge sigh of relief when De Jong's late header hit the back of the net.

What's next?

Barca face Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday following last week's 1-1 draw. They then host Cadiz in LaLiga on the following Monday – a day after Levante visit Granada.