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Barça needed nothing less than a win from Tuesday’s trip to the Ciutat de Valencia to truly keep the pressure on the two Madrid clubs, and leading 2-0 at half-time it looked the job was going to be done. But Levante produced an unexpected second half comeback, and although Ousmane Dembélé was able to restore the lead, another goal from the home side late on meant it finished three apiece.
It’s not a result that puts a total end to Barça’s title chances. But before the game they were already relying on both Atlético and Real Madrid dropping points, and now they need them to drop even more. There are still two games to be played, and there is still a glimmer of hope, but matters are now well and truly out of Barça’s direct control.
It had all looked so promising early on. Barça had thundered into the game and Pedri had two glorious chances before the hosts had barely touched the ball. By the 25th minute the game might have started drifting more towards Levante, but Leo Messi was on hand to set things straight.
Jordi Alba whipped the ball in and there was the Argentinian to collect the ball on the volley and blast in the first goal of the night, and his 29th this league season. Messi has never played Levante without scoring or assisting at least one goal, and that record is still intact.
Less than ten minutes later and Barça had two. It was Dembélé’s run that made it. Powering stuff from the Frenchman, which he topped by deftly tipping the ball back for the perfectly placed to Pedri tap home.
Levante back from nowhere
At this stage, it seemed to be turning into a very pleasant Tuesday night indeed. But the second half brought a quick and nasty twist in the tale. Two goals in a minute and Levante were back level.
On 56 minutes Melero rose to meet a header. That was one. Mere moments later and ‘comandante’ Morales capped a swift one-two with a fine angled shot that Ter Stegen could do nothing about.
Ousmane restores lead
It didn’t take long to right the wrong. Five minutes later, Dembélé found himself unmarked and in possession in the Levante area, and smashed the ball home with impressive conviction. A truly fabulous strike, his eleventh goal of the season, and Barça were back ahead.
Unfortunately, this lead was going to last either.
With Barça chasing a fourth goal to truly make sure of the three points, Levante broke. Toño rounded Dest and slipped the ball through for Sergio Leon. Levante were back level again.
Including injury time, there were still some ten minutes left to play, and Barça did everything they could and more to get the goal they so desperately needed. But time was running out and the magic just would not appear.
Atlético play Real Sociedad tomorrow. Real Madrid are in Granada on Thursday. All we can do is watch and hope… In such an unpredictable season, further shocks are not entirely out of the question. It's not mathematically over. Fingers crossed and Força Barça.
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