Jan 7, 2018 at 3.15pm UK at ​Camp Nou (Barcelona)
Attendance: 56,380
Barcelona
3-0
Levante
Messi (12'), Suarez (38'), Paulinho (90')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Lerma (8'), Postigo (31'), Boateng (70'), Rober (84')

Live Commentary: Barcelona 3-0 Levante - as it happened

Live Commentary: Barcelona 3-0 Levante - as it happened
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Relive Sports Mole's live commentary of the La Liga clash between Barcelona and Levante, which ended 3-0.

Barcelona moved 17 points clear of Spanish champions Real Madrid in La Liga courtesy of a 3-0 win over Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday afternoon.

The gap from first to second-placed Atletico Madrid is now nine points, while Real Madrid are 17 points off the summit, albeit with two games in hand.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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2.16pmAfternoon all! Sports Mole's live La Liga coverage continues from Camp Nou as Barcelona welcome Levante. The home side will be looking to re-open a nine-point advantage at the top of the table, and they will fancy their chances of overcoming a Levante team that are hovering just above the relegation zone with just three wins from 17 league games this season. Stay tuned for the action!

2.19pmTo suggest that the omens are not great for Levante this afternoon would perhaps be the understatement of the century. Indeed, Barcelona have won 11 of their last 12 meetings in all competitions – remaining unbeaten in the process. Their last match-up at Camp Nou occurred during the 2015-16 La Liga campaign, and it was Barcelona that ran out 4-1 winners.

2.22pmRight, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Camp Nou. Both of these teams were in Copa del Rey action on Thursday night – Barcelona facing Celta Vigo, and Levante taking on Espanyol. All of the big hitters are back for this one...

2.25pmTEAMS!

BARCA: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Mascherano, Vermaelen, Alba; Rakitic, Paulinho, Iniesta; Dembele, Suarez, Messi

LEVANTE: Oier; Moore, Postigo, Cabaco, Luna; Lerma, Lukic; Jason, Doukoure, Ivi; Boateng


2.28pmOusmane Dembele made his return from injury as a substitute in Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night, and the Frenchman is back the first XI here. It will be his first La Liga appearance since picking up a thigh injury in the middle of September. Elsewhere, Gerard Pique starts on the bench as Javier Mascherano comes into the back four alongside Thomas Vermaelen, while the suspension of Sergio Busquets sees Ivan Rakitic start in the middle of the park.


2.32pmAs for Levante, Emmanuel Boateng will lead their line with support from Jason and Ivi Lopez in wide positions. The visitors are missing their two leading scorers Jose Luis Morales and Enis Bardhi through suspension, however, which is a big blow to their chances of picking up a positive result here.

2.35pmSo there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff on this mild afternoon in Barcelona. I shall speak about the away side a little bit later, but let's start with Barcelona. Ernesto Valverde's side entered the winter break in Spain off the back of an incredible 3-0 win at Real Madrid on December 20.

2.38pmThat three-goal success at the Bernabeu moved Barcelona 14 points clear of their bitter rivals, and with Los Blancos not in action until tonight, a win here would open up a 17-point advantage, which would be staggering. That said, Atletico Madrid in second are just six points off Barcelona, and Diego Simeone's side will fancy their chances of chipping away at the lead in the coming weeks.

2.42pmOh, and this happened yesterday. Philippe Coutinho is now a Barcelona player. The thought of him featuring alongside Dembele, Luis Suarez and Messi is mouthwatering. No Coutinho today though!


2.45pmBarcelona have won 14, drawn three and lost zero of their 17 La Liga matches this season. They have scored more than anyone else (45) and also have the best defensive record having shipped just seven goals. The entertainment has not always been there under Valverde, but the Catalan giants look a more secure defensive unit under the leadership of the former Athletic Bilbao boss.

2.48pmIt would be a big surprise if Barcelona did not triumph this afternoon, and their attention will then switch back to the Copa del Rey as they host Celta Vigo in the second leg of their affair next week. Valverde's side will then visit Real Sociedad on January 14, before travelling to Real Betis one week later.

2.52pmThe Champions League also resumes next month, and Barcelona have the small matter of a two-legged last-16 tie with English champions Chelsea. Barcelona have had to watch Real Madrid dominate in Europe over the last couple of years, but this team looks ready to make a serious play for the crown.

2.55pm

2.58pmAs for Levante, a total of 18 points from 17 fixtures has left them in 16th position in the table. They have only won three times in La Liga this season, but have actually only lost five times. They have drawn more than anyone else (9) in the top flight this term, and would certainly take a share of the spoils here.

3.02pmIncredibly, only the top four have lost fewer games in the league than Levante this season. However, no team has won fewer than the Valencia club. They will enter this match off the back of successive goalless draws with Sevilla and Leganes, but suffered a heavy 5-0 home defeat to Atletico Madrid at the end of November. Kickoff at Camp Nou is now just around the corner!

3.05pmLevante returned to La Liga this season after winning the Segunda Division last term. They finished as high as sixth during the 2011-12 campaign, but dropped out of the top flight after finishing bottom in 2015-16. It will be very interesting to see whether Juan Muniz can find a way to turn some of the draws into wins in the second half of the campaign.

3.08pm

3.12pmHere we go then - both sets of players are in the tunnel ahead of kickoff at Camp Nou. Barcelona are the overwhelming favourites to win this match, but Levante have proved difficult to beat during the 2017-18 campaign. Stay tuned for live minute-by-minute updates of the action!

0 minKICKOFF! Barcelona get things underway on home soil...

2 min... far from a full Camp Nou this afternoon, but there is a good atmosphere inside the ground. Barcelona will be looking to make a positive start, and they have had all of the ball thus far here.

3 minThe first corner of the match goes to the visitors as Boateng uses his pace to unnerve Mascherano, and the centre-back has to clear behind. The set piece is cleared at the near post by Rakitic.

3 minLerma fires over the Barcelona crossbar from a narrow angle as Levante threaten early on.

5 minLevante are very much on the front foot at the moment as Cheick Doukoure uses his pace to run away from the Barcelona midfield; it eventually goes behind for another corner, which the hosts clear.

7 minBarcelona have been very sloppy in the first seven minutes of this match. Levante can be delighted with their start to this match as they continue to have joy on the counter-attack here.

8 minBOOKING! Lerma (Levante) is booked for a rash challenge on Messi.

10 minCHANCE! Messi delivers a very dangerous free kick into the Levante box, but Oier just about does enough to claw behind under pressure from Mascherano. So dangerous from Messi.

12 minMessi tries to thread a pass into Luis Suarez as Barcelona start to turn the screw, but Postigo does well to make the block. Levante then break down the other end, and Lerma's cross proves difficult for the home side's goalkeeper to handle. Really good game of football with 12 on the clock here.

12 minGOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Levante (Messi)

13 minBreakthrough! Barcelona take the lead in the 12th minute as Messi turns home with a volley from inside the box after another assist from Alba. Those two combine once again in the top flight!

15 minSAVE! Super save from Oier as the Levante goalkeeper keeps out a close-range strike from Suarez. Dembele picks up the pieces, but Luna is on hand to make the block.

17 minCHANCE! Super chance for Levante to level as Boateng finds Doukoure with a low cross, but the midfielder misses the target from a very dangerous position. Should have scored!

19 minIt has been a very open and entertaining 19 minutes of football here, and credit has to go to Levante for their approach. The visitors are having plenty of joy on the break despite being behind.

20 minIvi has one deflected wide of the post as Levante continue to enjoy themselves here.

22 minBarcelona continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field, but Levante are well organised in a defensive area. It is vital that the visitors do not concede a second at this stage of the match.

24 minMessi goes slightly too early as Mascherano plays the ball over the top, and the offside flag prevents Levante potentially conceding a second goal here. Still 1-0 to the home side, but Levante continue to play their part as the dangerous Boateng, Lerma and Doukoure combine once again.

25 minIvi is just flagged offside as Levante threaten once again.

26 minSAVE! Oier gets down to keep out a strike from Dembele, and the resulting effort from Luis Suarez was always too high. Dembele has been bright for the home side here.

28 minLevante have to score the next goal if they are to stand a chance of picking up a positive result here. The away side have been very dangerous in the final third, but Barcelona look like scoring each time that they break forward. Dembele, Luis Suarez and Messi have all been dangerous.

30 minLerma has already been booked for a foul on Messi, and the number eight is fortunate to escape a second yellow as he dives into a challenge with Messi once again. Steady on now, Jefferson.

32 minLevante have so much pace on the counter, which continues to make them a threat. Boateng absolutely steams away from Iniesta, and the Barcelona captain has to bring him down. The referee then collides with Mascherano, before Lerma flies into another challenge. Strange period of events.

32 minBOOKING! Postigo (Levante) is booked for a late challenge on Messi. Barcelona have a free kick in a very dangerous position. Big danger for Levante here as Messi stands over the ball...

32 min... CLOSE! Messi's free kick just misses the crossbar!

34 minLittle over 10 minutes of the first period to play, and Barcelona's 1-0 lead is still in tact. Levante simply cannot afford to concede a second in the latter stages of the first half here.

36 minDoukoure and Vermaelen clash heads, and both players are going to need some treatment.

38 minIt was a really nasty collision between Doukoure and Vermaelen. However, both players return to their feet following a period of treatment, which is excellent to see. Little over five minutes of the first period remaining, and Messi's goal from an Alba header remains the difference in this match.

38 minGOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Levante (Suarez)

39 minBarcelona double their lead in the 38th minute as Luis Suarez finds the back of the net with a wonderful finish after a cut-back from Roberto. It is a stunning finish from the centre-forward!

41 minBarcelona have the chance to score from another free kick just outside the Levante box. Messi takes once again, and his effort is deflected wide of the post for a corner. Levante under pressure.

43 minVermaelen heads into the arms of Oier as Levante continue to come under pressure here.

45 minA win for Barcelona this afternoon would take them 17 points clear of Real Madrid in the table, which is staggering. Real Madrid would then have two games in hand, but that is some advantage at this stage of the campaign. The gap from first to second-placed Atletico Madrid would be nine points.

45 minCLOSE! Rakitic just misses the post with a powerful strike from distance!

45+1 minSAVE! Oier is down to keep out a close-range effort from Messi.

45+2 minHALF-TIME: Barcelona 2-0 Levante

4.03pm,So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Barcelona leading 2-0 courtesy of goals from Messi and Luis Suarez. Levante have caused problems on the counter-attack, but have simply been unable to keep out the home side down the other end of the field.

4.08pmSTATISTICS! Barcelona dominated the first-half possession with 75%, while they managed 10 attempts - five of which were on target. Levante, meanwhile, failed to hit the target with any of their four attempts. Two yellow cards to report - Lerma and Postigo both in the book for the visitors.

4.13pmBENCH WATCH! Samuel, Nano and Rober are among those on the Levante bench here, and it would not be a surprise to see a couple of those in the second 45 minutes. Barcelona boss Valverde, meanwhile, has second-half options in the shape of Andre Gomes, Semedo and Denis Suarez.

46 minRESTART! Levante resume the action here...

47 min... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period develops here.

47 minSAVE! Super save from Ter Stegen to keep out Ivi's powerful strike!

49 minYou do get the feeling that there is a goal in this match for Levante. The problem is that Barcelona will fancy their chances of scoring a couple more down the other end. I would be very surprised if this finished 2-0 due to the fact that Levante are committing so many players forward here.

51 minLerma continues to chip away at Messi here. The Levante midfielder has been on a yellow card since the early stages, and continues to walk a fine line. Messi is being kicked all over the place.

53 minLevante are the team on the front foot at the moment as Barcelona drop a little deeper.

55 minMoore does well to clear ahead of Alba as Barcelona again threaten down the left. Not too much to report in terms of clear chances in the last few minutes. In fact, the best chance of the second half has come for Levante through Ivi. Barcelona yet to really get going since the half-time break.

57 minNot much of an atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment, which is not helping matters on the field. Barcelona are going through the motions as they keep the ball inside Levante's half of the field.

58 minDembele misses the target with a curling effort from distance.

61 minStill no movement on either bench, but we are approaching the stage of the match where both managers will be considering alterations. Not an awful lot has happened since the interval here.

62 minLEVANTE SUB! Rober replaces Lerma in Levante's first change.

64 minBarcelona have just upped the tempo in the last couple of minutes, but Levante stay strong in a defensive area. The visitors then break through Ivi, but there are no takers on his low cross.

65 minSAVE! Super chance for Levante once again as Moore collects a pass from Jason inside the Barcelona box, but the defender cannot find a route past Ter Stegen!

67 minBARCELONA SUB! Semedo replaces Dembele for the home side.

69 minLittle over 20 minutes of football remaining, and Levante are still alive in this football match.

70 minBOOKING! Boateng (Levante) is booked for a foul on Semedo.

72 minIt does appear that Levante are going to lose this afternoon, but they would have taken a 2-0 defeat before kickoff - there is no question about that. The visitors have caused plenty of problems on the counter-attack, and will win more than they will lose playing in this manner.

72 minSAVE! Super save from Oier to keep out Luis Suarez from close range!

74 minLEVANTE SUB! Boateng is replaced by Nano for the visitors here.

76 minLittle under 15 minutes of football remaining at Camp Nou, and Barcelona are preparing to make their first change. It will be Andre Gomes entering the field for the league leaders here.

77 minBARCELONA SUB! Gomes replaces Iniesta for the home side.

79 minBarcelona have another free kick in a dangerous area as Messi is brought to the deck for what seems like the 100th time in this match. Rober is the one to fell the Argentine on this occasion.

79 minMessi's free kick is straight into the wall.

81 minLittle under 10 minutes of football remaining, and Barcelona still lead 2-0 courtesy of first-half goals from Messi and Luis Suarez. Levante are still alive in this football match though.

82 minLEVANTE SUB! Levante's third change sees Garcia replace Jason.

84 minLittle over five minutes of normal time remaining at Camp Nou here.

84 minBOOKING! Rober (Levante) is booked for a poor tackle on Rakitic.

85 minBARCELONA SUB! Arnaiz is on for his La Liga debut in place of Roberto.

87 minGomes has been heavily involved for Barcelona since entering the field. Levante are very deep at the moment as the home side keep the ball in the final third. Messi has just hit the post for Barcelona, but he was in an offside position. Still 2-0 with 87 minutes on the clock here.

88 minAlba looks to have a problem late on here as he rolls around the deck holding his leg.

89 minLooks to be just an impact injury for Alba, which is great news for Barcelona.

90 min+1We are into the first of four additional minutes at Camp Nou.

90 min+3Not an awful lot to report in stoppage time as Levante mop up at the back once again. Barcelona have deserved to win this match, but the visitors have been impressive for long spells.

90 min+3GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Levante (Paulinho)

90 min+4Barcelona score their third in the final moments of this match as Paulinho converts from close range following a super cross from Messi. That third goal is tough on Levante.

90 min+5FULL-TIME: Barcelona 3-0 Levante

5.09pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Barcelona running out 3-0 winners over Levante at Camp Nou. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. Until next time!

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona24195062115162
2Atletico MadridAtletico2416713692755
3Valencia24144647281946
4Real Madrid23136451232845
5Sevilla2412393135-439
6Villarreal2411583529638
7EibarEibar2410593236-435
8GironaGirona249783430434
9Real Betis24103113846-833
10Celta Vigo239594134732
11Getafe237972621530
12Real Sociedad2485114645129
13Leganes2385102025-529
14Athletic Bilbao2461082427-328
15AlavesAlaves2491142233-1128
16Espanyol246992232-1027
17Levante24311102138-1720
18Las PalmasLas Palmas2453161852-3418
19Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo2445152453-2917
20Malaga2434171538-2313
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