Trailing To 19th-Place Levante, Barça Turns To Its Electric Teenagers For Salvation

Substitutes Pedri and Gavi combined to keep Barcelona's faint title hopes alive.

After starting Thursday's Europa League draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, Xavi used a match against 19th-place Levante to give 19-year-old Pedri and 17-year-old Gavi a rest. That plan lasted less than an hour at the Ciutat de València after Levante took a 52nd-minute lead from the spot through José Morales.

Incredibly, Levante could've gone 2-0 up in the 56th when the home side was awarded another penalty, but Marc-André ter Stegen saved Roger Martí's effort and Xavi immediately replaced Frenkie de Jong with Gavi and Nico González with Pedri.

Barça's equalizer came shortly after with Ousmane Dembélé picking out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 59th minute. It's Aubameyang's eighth goal in nine LaLiga appearances while Dembélé now has 11 league assists (all recorded over the last 11 matches).

 Then, in the 59th minute, Gavi diced his marker out wide, dribbled into the area and cut it back to the top of the box for Pedri. After his stunning finish against Sevilla last weekend, this was routine for Pedri.

Xavi again looked like a genius, but he made the mistake of bringing on Clément Lenglet in the 81st minute and the defender gave away a stonewall penalty in the 82nd. Substitute Gonzalo Melero took this one and converted.

Barcelona's faint title hopes were extinguished, until, in the second minute of stoppage time, the most unlikely hero imaginable stepped forward: Luuk de Jong. It's his sixth goal in 16 league games.

That's seven wins in a row for Barça and 15 games unbeaten in LaLiga. Real Madrid still has a 12-point lead but Barcelona maintains a game in hand. 

All of Barcelona's focus now shifts to Thursday's Europa League quarterfinal second leg at the Camp Nou.