Levante boss Paco Lopez has revealed his pride after his side beat Barcelona 2-1 in the first-leg of their Copa del Rey tie on Thursday. Goals from Erick Cabaco and Real Madrid loanee Borja Mayoral raced Levante into a two-goal lead inside the opening 20 minutes of the round of 32 clash at the Ciutat de Valencia, although a late Philippe Coutinho penalty did hand Barca what could ultimately prove to be a crucial away goal.
Barca did rest a number of first-team players for the contest, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique not being included in the squad, but Lopez still feels it was a fantastic achievement for his side to claim a rare victory over the Blaugrana. “Messi was not there, Suarez, [Gerard] Pique … but if we go over the players that were on the field: [Ousmane] Dembele, Coutinho, [Sergio] Busquets … for a team like ours to beat Barca has much merit,” Lopez told reporters. “They were not the best players in the world, but I am very proud of having defeated Barca.”
Barca may be forced to call upon their star names for next week’s return leg at the Camp Nou, but Lopez is hopeful his side can get the job done if they approach that match in the same manner. “We wanted to win the match because in a tie it is very difficult to eliminate them,” the 51-year-old added. “We will compete next week in the same way and think the same. I congratulate the team for the work and the effort.”