A Luis Suarez late finish and David Navarro’s 21st minute own goal were enough for Barcelona to run out 2-0 winners at Levante in Sunday’s early La Liga kick-off in Luis Enrique’s 100th game in charge of the Catalans.
Inside the opening two minutes, Andres Iniesta sent a strike from outside the box inches over Diego Marino’s crossbar, before Lionel Messi was adjudged marginally offside after he put the ball into the back of the net.
The openings acted as a wake-up call for the Valencians, who had a great chance of pulling a goal back themselves, had the lively Deyverson’sshot on the end of Morales’ cutback at the near post been more accurate by half a yard.
Moments later, Marino got an important hand to Neymar’s curling shot in the area, Barcelona did break the deadlock with more than a hint of luck as Navarro turned Jordi Alba’s clipped cross at the left-hand byline into his own net.
A misjudgment then allowed Neymar in, but Suarez couldn’t guide the Brazilian’s low cross past Marino at the near post, despite having the goal at his mercy, and La Blaugrana avoided paying for their miss, when Jefferson Lerma could only drag his one-on-one with Claudio Bravo several yards wide of the goalkeeper’s left-hand post.
Barcelona’s high line at the back continued to play a risky game, and they were infiltrated again with a simple ball over the top from Lerma. Morales then did everything right as he headed the ball down and chased it through, but his angled finish crashed against Bravo’s right-hand post.
With the sun shining brightly as the afternoon closed in on proceedings, very little attacking football was played by either team after the break, although Rakitic should have done better with his near-post header from a corner, which Marino instinctively kept out.
Nonetheless, Levante were punished for their late show of pressure as Messi split the home defence in two to pick out the run of Suarez who netted his one-on-one with Marino. Barcelona have now moved three points clear at the top of the La Liga log with a game in hand.