Levante: Munúa; Pedro López,
Ballesteros, Cabral, Juanfran; Xavi Torres, Iborra (Rubén Suárez
88'); Valdo, Barkero (Juanlu 87'), Botelho (Ghezzal 79'); Koné. 4-2-3-1.
Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano; Thiago, Xavi (Cuenca 46'), Busquets, Fàbregas; Alexis (Dani Alves 75'), Messi, Pedro (Iniesta 53'). 3-4-3.
1-0. 23. Barkero (penalty). After Busquets blocked shot with arms inside area.
1-1. 64. Messi. Connected with Alexis return pass and curled shot past Munúa.
1-2. 72. Messi (penalty). After Botelho pushed over Cuenca inside penalty area.
Yellow cards: Busquets 22', Adriano 38', Botelho 44', Iborra 66', Cabral 67', Juanfran 70', Valdo 70'.
Barcelona kicked off their Saturday match against fifth placed Levante knowing that they had to win to keep in touch with leaders Real Madrid, who had beaten Sporting Gijón earlier in the evening. It was never going to be an easy game though against a team who had already beaten Madrid in their stadium this season. And although the early chances fell to Pedro, Alexis and Thiago, the locals went ahead with a Barkero penalty after Busquets blocked Juanfran's header with his hands. Munúa had to save from Fàbregas and Adriano either side of half time as Barça pushed forward, and Guardiola turned to Cuenca and Iniesta to try and find a way through a packed defence. Twenty minutes in to the second half they finally did after Cuenca laid the ball across from the right wing, Messi playing a one-two with Alexis before curling a shot past the keeper. Referee Teixeira Vitienes had already turned down a couple of penalty appeals by the visitors before that, but he did award them one when Botelho bundled over Cuenca in the area with twenty minutes to go. Messi stepped up to fire the spot kick past Munúa, his 63rd of the season and his 41st in the league, taking him level with Ronaldo for this season's Pichichi title. It was enough to take the three points and keep them within four of their arch-rivals coming in to Saturday's "clásico", although before that they have an important Champions League semi-final against Chelsea. Once again a long, hard season, and the next ten days will be crucial.