VALENCIA (Reuters) – Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho said his team had lost in the 43rd league after La Liga's 5-0 away win against Levante on Sunday.
Barca had won the Spanish title two weeks ago before and last week survived 45 minutes with 10 men to play to draw 2-2 with Real Madrid, moving within two games of the first team since Real in 1932 to end an unbeaten league season.
But their hopes for a unique performance fell in their penultimate game at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium into the hands of unlikely suspects Levante, who are 15th in the standings and fight the descent for much of the season.
"We are not feeling well, we really wanted to end the season without defeat, but we had a very difficult game against a highly motivated team and if you scored five goals, you do not deserve to win," Coutinho told reporters.
"Today is not a good day for us, we break up here with bad feelings."
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde decided to treat scorer Lionel Messi a rare break and started without keeper-defenders Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique. His team, however, was widely opened by a proliferating home team.
Levante scored three goals after the break to claim a 5-1 lead and became the first team since Malaga in 2003 to lose five goals in a league game against Barca.
Coutinho scored his first hat-trick for Barcelona and Luis Suarez converted a penalty that made for a thrilling ending, but Levante kept up and celebrated the Catalans as the league's first team this season.
"It was a very difficult game, it was very open and we came back and almost made it, but now it's over 43 games without defeat are still historic, but now we have to look ahead," added Coutinho added.
"We feel bad, of course we first wanted to win the league and then we wanted to end the season unbeaten.
" We only had two more games left to lose this day is a difficult day for us but victory was the most important thing. "
Reporting by Richard Martin, edited by Toby Davis