VALENCIA, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Barcelona’s recent iron grip on the Copa del Rey came under threat as they lost 2-1 at Levante in their last-16 first leg tie on Thursday after resting a host of first team regulars, including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Barca, who have won the last four editions of the Spanish Cup, fell behind in the fourth minute when slack marking from a free kick saw Erick Cabaco head home while Borja Mayoral, on loan from Real Madrid, doubled Levante’s lead in the 18th.
Jose Luis Morales spurned a glorious chance to strike a third goal for the home side which would have seriously damaged Barca’s hopes of staying in the competition.
But the Catalans were handed a huge boost heading into next Thursday’s second leg at the Nou Camp when Denis Suarez was fouled in the penalty area and record signing Philippe Coutinho converted the resulting spot-kick in the 85th minute. (Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Ken Ferris)