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Levante boss Luis Mendilibar clearly sent his team out with instructions to defend deep and try and hit Barça on the break and before Neymar broke the deadlock, it almost worked with only a brilliant last gasp tackle from Rakitic keeping out Casedesus on 14 minutes and Morales just failing to connect with a header soon afterwards. Barça continued to probe, with Neymar and Alba creating danger down the left. Neymar had already had three chances before just past the half hour mark he peeled off the last man, as Messi found him with a brilliant through ball. This time the Brazilian made no mistake, rounded the keeper and made it 1-0 as the Messi-Neymar partnership struck again.
Five minutes later Barça looked set to double their lead when Messi was brought down in the box, but the Argentinean shot wide from the spot. With Vytner shown red for the penalty, Levante were down to ten and when just before the break Rakitic hit a beautifully struck volley from 35 yards to make it two, there could be few doubts about who’d be taking the three points.
Sandro and Pedro seal the win
There was a moment of worry for Barça as Neymar went down at the start of the first half and although he seemed to be okay, he was subbed for Sandro as a precaution and the Barça B youngster made his presence felt with his first touch, turning in Messi’s squared ball to make it three on 57 minutes. Barça, and especially Messi, were hungry for more goals though and Pedro was on hand on 64 minutes to put away Jordi Alba’s cut back after the Catalan had surged through on the right.
And Messi gets his rewards!
With Xavi and Sergi Roberto on for Busquets and Iniesta, Barça showed their strength in depth and the tireless Messi got his rewards with goal number 5 on 77 minutes when he latched onto a poor clearance, beat two defenders and chipped the keeper with a sublime piece of skill.
So it’s 12 points from 12, 11 goals scored and none conceded for Luis Enrique’s team, who’ve made an impressive start to their three game week, with Malaga and Granada next up.
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