Levante 2 - 1 Barcelona - Match Report & Highlights

Barca's Munir El Haddadi

But the Catalans were handed a huge boost heading into next Thursday's second leg at the Nou Camp when Denis Suarez was fouled in the penalty area and record-signing Philippe Coutinho converted the resulting spot kick in the 85th minute.

Barca's out-of-favour Brazilian forward Malcom missed two clear chances in the first half after Levante's bright start, while French winger Dembele dazzled the home defence in the second half but fell over just as he was shaping to shoot.

But the visitors pulled a goal back through Philippe Coutinh's late penalty strike. They had [Jose Luis] Morales' chance [to make it 3-0], but I think in general we were better and deserved - at the very least - our goal.

"He is not happy, but has to fight".

Busquets captained an inexperienced Barca side on the night, with Messi, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba not even making the trip to the Ciudad de Valencia stadium. "It's a risk, maybe, but these are the risks we take".

Jeison Murillo, a loan signing from Valencia, is in the group after being an unused substitute in a 2-1 win against Getafe last time out, Messi and Suarez scoring the goals.

"When (Ousmane) Dembele didn't play, everyone asked about him, now Coutinho doesn't play, it's the reverse", Valverde said afterwards.

Valverde was blamed last season for Barca's shock Champions Leaue exit, the theory being that he failed to rest key players in the Copa del Rey and La Liga, both of which they won.

Coutinho has started only one of Barca's last five matches, and his form is a far cry from his displays after joining the club in the middle of last season. "Coutinho gives us a lot and will keep giving us a lot". There's tough competition here [for places].

Their displays have meant that Coutinho has been unable to nail down a position either in midfield or as part of the front three.

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