VALENCIA (Reuters) - Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho said his side were feeling down after their enthralling 5-4 defeat away to Levante on Sunday brought an end to their record 43-match unbeaten run in La Liga.
Barca had clinched the Spanish title two weeks ago and last week survived playing 45 minutes with 10 men to draw 2-2 with Real Madrid, moving to within two games of becoming the first team since Real in 1932 to end a Liga season undefeated.
Yet their hopes of a unique achievement came crashing down in their penultimate game at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium at the hands of unlikely suspects Levante, who are 15th in the standings and have spent most of the season fighting relegation.
“We are not feeling good, we really wanted to end the season without losing but we had a very difficult game against a highly motivated team and when you concede five goals you don’t deserve to win,” Coutinho told reporters.
“Today is not a good day for us, we leave here with bad sensations.”
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde decided to give a rare rest to top scorer Lionel Messi and started without key defenders Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique. His team, however, were cut wide open by a rampant home side.
Levante scored three times after the break to take a 5-1 lead and become the first team since Malaga in 2003 to put five goals past Barca in a league game.
Coutinho scored his first hat-trick for Barcelona and Luis Suarez converted a penalty to set up a thrilling end to the game but Levante held on and wildly celebrated being the first team in the league this season to put the Catalans to the sword.
“It was a very difficult game, it was very open and we came back and almost pulled it off but now it’s over. 43 games without losing is still historic but now we have to look forward,” added Coutinho.
“We feel bad. Of course, we wanted to win the league first of all and after we did that we wanted to end the season unbeaten.
“We had just two games left so losing like this makes today a difficult day for us but winning the league was the most important thing.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis