Ghana's Emmanuel Boateng's Hat-Trick Ends Barcelona's Unbeaten Run


VALENCIA, May 13 (Reuters) - Barcelona's hopes of completing an unbeaten La Liga season ended in thrilling fashion on Sunday as the champions suffered a shock 5-4 defeat at Levante in their 37th and penultimate game of the campaign after resting talisman Lionel Messi.

A penalty committed on Sergio Busquets then allowed Luis Suarez to score from the penalty spot to make it 5-4 with 20 minutes still to play, but despite Barca's efforts, Levante were able to dig deep and end their incredible run of 43 games without tasting defeat to an end.

The La Liga and Copa del Rey champions trailed 5-1 after an hour and still came within a whisker of a sensational comeback as Coutinho's second and third goals, and a Luis Suarez penalty, set up a grandstand finish.

That wasn't enough though as an Emmanuel Boateng hat-trick and a brace from Enis Bardhi sealed a shock victory for 15th-placed Levante.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde left Messi- the competition's leading scorer with 34 goals- out of his squad to rest ahead of a demanding summer for the Argentina forward at the World Cup.

It was 1932 when the last side, Real Madrid, went unbeaten in the top-flight but even that was across only 18 matches, in a 10-team division.

"I feel very angry but I have to look forward because what makes me angry isn't going to give me solutions", Valverde said.

Boateng was magnificent in the game, as he wasted no time in starting a mission that will grab the headlines in the Spanish media, when he opened the scoring on the 9th minute.

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"The match was decided by counterattacks, especially during a insane 10-minute spell in the second half, when they scored three goals".

56 mins: 5-1 - Levante are in dreamland.

"To score five goals against Barcelona is nearly impossible, but our motto all week has been "nothing is impossible" and we have achieved something historic", Lopez said.

Bardhi curled in a shot within the first minute of the second half to make it 3-1.

59 mins: 5-2 - Coutinho slams home from close range after Suarez's shot is blocked, but surely they can not come back?

Barely ten minutes later and the home side were well and truly in dreamland with a hat-trick for Boateng as he finished a ball from Luna who had pounced on a flick from Roger Marti.

But without Messi even to bring on, Levante withstood the late onslaught and should even have scored a sixth only for Ruben Rochina to prode wide after a terrible backpass by Busquets.