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Barca Suffer First-Leg Copa Defeat

Copa del Rey 

Result: Levante 2-1 FC Barcelona

Date: 10 January 2019

Venue: Estadi Ciutat de València

FC Barcelona, who were without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, suffered a 2-1 defeat to Levante in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last 16 tie.

Ernesto Valverde handed a debut to defender Jeison Murillo, who is on loan from Valencia, while Malcom, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho made up the front three as Messi and Suarez were left out of the squad.

Barca got off to the worst start as Erick Cabaco rose highest to nod home a free-kick from Rochina after just four minutes to hand Levante the lead.

The lead was doubled on 18 minutes as Borja Mayoral - on loan from Real Madrid- managed to squeeze the ball into the back of the net through a couple defenders.

The Absence of Messi and Suarez certainly showed as the Catalan giants found it tough to carve out chances in the final third, as the likes of Coutinho, Dembele and Malcom failed to stamp their authority on the game.

Levante ended the first half quite strongly and they unlucky not have gone three goals up into the break after Mayoral smashed his close range effort wide of the mark from close range.

The second half picked up from where the first off finished as Barca goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was into action on two occasions by Mayoral and Moses Simon in the opening 15 minutes.

Having already used the first two substitutions for the defence, Valverde threw on reported Arsenal target Denis Suarez for Malcom in the 68th minute as his last throw of the dice.

The change paid off as Suarez won the visitors a penalty with five minutes remaining Coutinho stepped up and converted the spot-kick to reduce the deficit and hand Barca a precious away goal.

In the end, 2-1 was how the encounter ended as the Catalan giants will now fancy themselves to get the job done at the Camp Nou in the second leg.

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