The Brazilian’s 85th-minute penalty means Barcelona will go into the second leg of their Copa del Rey tie with only a one-goal deficit.

Debutant Murillo hopes late Coutinho strike can turn tie in Barca favour

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  • 2019-01-11 07:15:12 10 months ago
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Jeison Murillo is taking heart from Philippe Coutinho’s late goal after Barcelona were stunned 2-1 by Levante in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie.

The defending champions were heading for a convincing defeat following early goals from Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Barca’s rivals Real Madrid.

But Coutinho gave them hope of turning the tie around at the Nou Camp next week with a 85th-minute penalty after substitute Denis Suarez, a reported Arsenal target, was upended by Coke.

And debutant Murillo is hoping Barca, without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on the night, can build on Coutinho’s strike in the second leg.

“The result is not the best,” Murillo was quoted as saying by Marca.

“We have to take advantage of Coutinho’s goal at home.”

Defender Murillo was making his debut for Barca after joining on loan from LaLiga rivals Valencia last month.

The Colombian was disappointed to taste defeat on his bow, but is working hard to impress boss Ernesto Valverde.

“It’s a bittersweet night,” he added.

“I’ve tried to fit into the group. I’m taking things positively. The coach keeps asking me to work.”

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Debutant Murillo hopes late Coutinho strike can turn tie in Barca favour

Result: Barcelona lose to Levante in Copa del Rey

Barcelona have work to do in their Copa del Rey tie with Levante after losing 2-1 to the Valencia-based outfit in the first leg of their last-16 clash on Thursday night.

Barcelona have lifted the trophy in each of the last four campaigns and have been present in all but one of the last eight finals, but have ground to make up in the second leg of the last-16 tie at Camp Nou next week.

Levante attacker Borja Mayoral in action with Barcelona's Juan Brandariz in the Copa del Rey on January 10, 2019.© Reuters

Levante took a shock lead in the fourth minute of the match when Erick Cabaco rose highest inside the Barcelona box to head a floated Ruben Rochina free kick past Jasper Cillessen from close range.

Barcelona's back four included debutant Jeison Murillo and youngsters Chumi Brandariz and Juan Miranda.

It took time for the away side's defence to find their feet and Levante had a brilliant chance to double their lead in the seventh minute when Emmanuel Boateng drove into the penalty box before looking to pick out the bottom corner, but Cillessen was down to make a smart save.

Boateng had an even better chance to register in the 13th minute when he met a low cross from Coke, but a combination of Murillo and Cillessen managed to keep the ball out of the back of the net.

Levante did have their second in the 18th minute, however, when Boateng's clever pass found Borja Mayoral and the on-loan Real Madrid forward managed to squeeze his low effort through Murillo's legs and into the back of the net.

Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez made two big saves in the spell that followed, first keeping out a strike from Philippe Coutinho before excellently denying Malcom, who had been sent through on goal.

Fernandez then denied Carles Alena from distance as the Spanish champions continued to create openings, although the door was open for Levante down the other end of the field.

Mayoral came close to scoring his second of the match late in the first period when the 21-year-old pounced on a rebound inside the Barcelona box before firing towards goal, but Cillessen made a smart stop.

The on-loan Los Blancos attacker then fired another attempt wide of the post moments later, before Malcom just failed to meet an Ousmane Dembele cross down the other end as Levante led 2-0 at the interval.

Levante's Ruben Rochina tangles with Barcelona's Juan Miranda during their Copa del Rey clash on January 10, 2019.© Reuters

Sergi Roberto replaced Miranda at the interval as Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde looked for a route back into the match, but Levante continued to cause problems and Cillessen had to keep out a strike from Rochina early in the second period.

Coutinho had Barcelona's first sight of goal in the second half, but the Brazilian's 52nd-minute effort was always rising over the home side's crossbar.

Cillessen then had to keep out another effort from the lively Mayoral moments later, before Moses Simon tested Barcelona's second-choice goalkeeper from distance.

Levante had another golden opportunity in the 64th minute when Jose Luis Morales was found by Mayoral inside the Barcelona box, but the substitute saw his effort saved over the crossbar by Cillessen.

Denis Suarez - strongly linked with a move to Arsenal - came off the bench in the 67th minute as a replacement for Malcom, who struggled to make his mark on the night.

Barcelona were having a lot more of the ball as the second period approached its latter stages and the visitors had a penalty in the 84th minute when Denis Suarez was brought to the ground by Coke.

Coutinho stepped forward to make it 2-1 in the 85th minute and that was how it finished in Valencia to leave the tie delicately poised ahead of the return at Camp Nou next week.

LEVANTE (3-5-2): Aitor; Cabaco, Postigo, Chema (Jason 69'); Coke, Rochina (Doukoure 75'), Prcic, Campana, Simon; Mayoral, Boateng (Morales 62')

BARCELONA (4-3-3): Cillessen; Semedo, Murillo, Chumi (Lenglet 59'), Miranda (Roberto 46'); Busquets, Vidal, Alena; Coutinho, Dembele, Malcom (D Suarez 67')

Result: Levante lead Barcelona ahead of second leg after surprise win

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde is targeting a second successive league and cup double this season as his side get set to face Levante in the Copa del Rey.

A repeat of last season's achievement could be on the cards, with Barcelona top of LaLiga and in the last 16 of the cup, where they face a trip to Estadio Ciudad de Valencia on Thursday.

Valverde rejected the suggestion that a run in the cup could derail Barcelona's title challenge and has his sights set on winning both competitions.

"I see the team and the players in good shape," he told reporters at a pre-match press conference. "We just had a break, the players had some rest, and everybody was able to charge their batteries.

"We would like to have a lot of game in the cup because that's good, it means we are getting through the rounds.

"With everything that is being talked about saying that the cup is a problem and that it could tire us out, I'm not so sure about that. Last season we might have dropped a point or two.

"January is a difficult month for us. It's true the games come all at once and we have to make changes but the excitement for the club means a lot to us, the cup gives us a lot.

Celtic v Barcelona – 2016 International Champions Cup – Aviva Stadium
Munir El Haddadi may have played his last game for Barcelona (Liam McBurney/PA)

"Everyone loves playing in semi-finals and finals but we have to get through the earlier rounds and go for it. We want to win LaLiga, which is really important for us, and the cup as well."

Valverde has decided to give the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez a rest with what will be a busy upcoming month for Barcelona.

Samuel Umtiti, Thomas Vermaelen and Rafinha are out while Munir El Haddadi will not be involved. The 23-year-old forward has been linked with Sevilla and he was also left out of the squad at Getafe at the weekend.

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