The Associated Press BARCELONA (AP) — Without Lionel Messi to save the day, Barcelona bid farewell to its quest to make history in Spain.
Barcelona lost 5-4 in a wild game at Levante on Sunday, ruining the champion’s chance to become the first team to finish a Spanish league season without a defeat under its current format.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde left Messi — the league’s leading scorer with 34 goals — out of his squad to rest ahead of a demanding summer for the Argentina striker at the World Cup.
The real trouble for Barcelona, however, came in defense.
Led by Emmanuel Boateng’s hat trick and two more goals from Enis Bardhi, host Levante was heading toward a historic rout by building a 5-1 advantage after 56 minutes.
But Barcelona roared back, with Philippe Coutinho adding two goals to his first-half strike to complete a hat trick before Luis Suarez converted a penalty to cut the deficit to 5-4 in the 71st minute. Suarez headed high from close range in Barcelona’s last chance to snatch the draw.
Barcelona’s upset by a modest Levante side which had to fight to stay out of the relegation zone most of the season came with just one match left.