MADRID: Not even conceding three penalty kicks was enough to stop Barcelona’s impressive run.
Barcelona rallied to a 3-2 win against second-to-last Levante in the Spanish league on Sunday, with substitute Luuk de Jong scoring in stoppage time after the Catalan club had conceded three penalties in the second half.
The win extended Barcelona's unbeaten run to 15 matches in all competitions and moved the team back into second place in the league after it was leapfrogged by Sevilla on Saturday.
Barcelona is 12 points behind leader Real Madrid with a game in hand. Madrid beat Getafe 2-0 on Saturday.
“It will be hard to contend for the title because Madrid isn’t making many mistakes,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández said. “We both have difficult matches ahead, but if Madrid ends up losing some points maybe we can hope of achieving something bigger.”
Barcelona’s rally began after Xavi put Pedri González into the game early in the second half with the team a goal down. The 19-year-old playmaker was rested ahead of Barcelona’s return leg against Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarterfinals of the Europa League on Thursday. Barcelona and Eintracht drew the first leg 1-1 in Germany last week.
José Luis Morales put Levante ahead by converting a penalty kick in the 52nd after a foul by Dani Alves. The second penalty for the hosts came four minutes later after a handball by Barcelona defender Eric García, with Roger Martí missing from the spot.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalized for Barcelona with a header off a cross by Ousmane Dembélé in the 59th, and Pedri scored the go-ahead goal from inside the area in the 63rd.
Levante evened the match after another penalty in the 83rd after a foul by Barcelona defender Clément Lenglet, with Gonzalo Melero converting his shot from the spot before De Jong got the late winner after a well-placed cross by Jordi Alba.
Barcelona, which had not previously conceded a penalty in the league this season, hasn't lost since playing Athletic Bilbao in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey in January.
Levante stayed tied on points with last-place Alavés. It is seven points from safety.
SOCIEDAD IN CONTENTION
Real Sociedad continued its push for a Champions League spot with a 2-1 win at Elche.
Alexander Sorloth and Robin Le Normand scored less than 10 minutes apart in the first half to help Sociedad get within three points of fourth-place Atlético Madrid with seven rounds to go.
It was the third win in the last four matches for sixth-place Sociedad, which sits two points behind Real Betis in fifth.
Elche, which opened the scoring with Guido Carrillo in the third minute, stayed in 15th place, four points above the relegation zone. It has lost three in a row.
Sorloth scored in the 31st and Le Normand in the 39th, both after assists from veteran David Silva.
Sociedad forward Alexander Isak scored from a penalty kick but it was disallowed as he faked his shot to fool the goalkeeper before sending the ball into the net.
China forward Wu Lei scored in the 89th for his first goal of the season as Espanyol beat Celta Vigo 1-0 at home in a match between teams near the middle of the table.
Earlier, 10th-place Osasuna scored in stoppage time with a goal from Ante Budimir to beat Alavés 1-0. It was the fourth loss in a row for Alavés with coach Julio Velázquez making his debut.