Barcelona: Facing another setback in an already difficult season, Lionel Messi found his finishing touch to save Barcelona from falling further behind in the Spanish league.
Messi’s late goal secured a hard-fought 1-0 home victory over Levante on Sunday to end a two-game losing skid for Barcelona. Messi fired a left-footed shot off the far post and into the net to get Barcelona’s breakthrough in the 76th minute after Levante had withstood the hosts with tenacious defending.
The victory for Barcelona came after last round’s upset loss to Cádiz and a 3-0 home defeat to Juventus in the Champions League. Barcelona still has a long way to go to get back in the title race, but it was able to claw back some ground after front-runners Real Sociedad and Atlético Madrid both dropped points this weekend. Barcelona is in eighth place at nine points behind the leaders. Barcelona and Atlético have played two fewer games than Sociedad.
Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernández kept Levante in the match with multiple stops to deny Messi, Martin Braithwaite, Antoine Griezmann and Jordi Alba. Messi finally beat Fernández with his 10th shot of the match. He was set up by Frenkie de Jong after the Netherlands midfielder and Braithwaite stole possession from Mickael Malsa inside Levante’s half. Fernández got his hands to Messi’s powerful strike, but not enough to keep it out.
Sociedad returned to the top of the standings after drawing 1-1 at home with Eibar. The San Sebastian-based club pulled level with Atlético on points and moved into first place on total goals scored with the two teams having the same goal difference.
Atlético had its first loss of the season on Saturday when it fell 2-0 at city rival Real Madrid.