Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Ghana's Boateng Hits Hat-trick As Levante End Barcelona's Unbeaten Run

Ghana's Boateng Hits Hat-trick As Levante End Barcelona's Unbeaten Run

With AP Photos.Barcelona lost 5-4 in a wild game at Levante which ruined the champion's bid to become the first team to finish a Spanish league season without a loss under its current format.

Lifted by the youngster's performance, football fans took to Twitter to shower encomium on the relatively unknown striker.

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.

The champions were 5-1 down after 56 minutes and they launched a fightback with a Philippe Coutinho hat-trick and a Luis Suarez penalty. Boateng bagged his hat-trick, slotting his shot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal for Barcelona to make it 4-1 in the 49th minute.

The away side came close to the result against an increasingly nervy Levante defence gifting Coutinho his second, before a pass from Sergio Busquets deflected off Suarez and beyond Oier in the home goal.

Two teams pulled off the feat in the 1930s when the competition only had 10 teams compared to 20 now.

The shock of the season saw Barca suffer their first league loss since going down 2-0 to Malaga on April 8, 2017, ending an incredible, record-breaking sequence that had lasted 43 games.

For Levante, this is their eighth win in 10 matches under new coach Paco Lopez, who took charge with the club in danger of relegation but has overseen a remarkable transformation. "The explanation is the same as that of our play over the last 2 1/2 months: work, trust in one another and the belief that this team has no limits".

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

Coutinho put in a rebound from close range and struck again with a shot that hit another player to fool goalkeeper Oier Olazabal.

But that was as close as Barcelona got without Messi around to pull off some late magic.

"We are angry not to have come through this game and not to have the opportunity to finish unbeaten", Valverde said.

"It's shame to lose [the chance of an unbeaten season], but don't forget that we've won the league".

Barca sealed the league title two weeks ago, completing a domestic double that included the Copa del Rey crown, but Valverde had set his sights on a "historic" unbeaten campaign.

Elsewhere, Espanyol routed relegated Malaga 4-1.

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