Levante stuns Barcelona 3-1 after Messi scores opener

<p>
              Levante's Nemanja Radoja, right, and Levante's Borja Mayoral celebrates after scoring his side third goal against Barcelona during the Spanish La Liga soccer match in Valencia, Spain, Nov.2 , 2019. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
            </p>

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Levante roared back from Lionel Messi’s opening goal to shock Barcelona 3-1 in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Granada can jump ahead of the defending champions at the top of the standings on Sunday if it beats Real Sociedad. Barcelona also has a postponed game in hand against Real Madrid that has been moved to Dec. 18.

Barcelona appeared to be in charge after Messi converted a spot kick in the 38th minute after Nelson Semedo was tripped by Jorge Miramón in the box. The goal extended Messi’s scoring run to five consecutive games.

But Barcelona lost striker Luis Suárez to a right leg injury before halftime and started the second half sluggishly. They conceded three times in eight minutes.

Levante’s first two goals came after Barcelona made long passes from its area that were picked off by the host, which with one pass was already in striking position.

José Campaña equalized in the 61st when he fired home from a short pass laid off my Borja Mayoral. Mayoral put Levante ahead two minutes later with a curling shot from the top of the area. Nemanja Radoja added a third in the 68th after the ball reached him on the edge of the area following a free kick.

Messi seemed to have pulled a goal back but it was waived off for offside after a video review.

The loss ended Barcelona’s seven-game winning streak.

“Maybe if we had hung on to the 1-1 longer we could have recovered, but we hadn’t started well in the second half,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Levante moved into eighth place.

Levante coach Paco López said the key was being more aggressive in attack.

“I was a bit annoyed in the first half because without the ball Barca dominates you, and we needed to take more chances and be more daring with the ball,” López said. “It is a huge merit to beat Barcelona, only a few can do it.”

Barcelona said Suárez hurt his soleus muscle in his right leg. He walked off when substituted.

Barcelona hosts Slavia Prague in the Champions League on Tuesday.