Football: Barcelona stunned by defeat at lowly Leganes but stay top after Real's 3-0 shock loss at Sevilla

Leganes' midfielder Oscar Rodriguez (left) celebrates after scoring the 2-1 goal. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID (REUTERS) - La Liga leaders Barcelona slumped to a shock first loss of the season on Wednesday (Sept 26), suffering a 2-1 defeat at struggling Leganes after conceding twice in two second-half minutes as coach Ernesto Valverde's squad rotation backfired.

But they remained top of the standings after Real Madrid crashed to a limp 3-0 defeat at Sevilla.

Philippe Coutinho gave the champions the lead in the 12th minute with a classy volley and Lionel Messi smacked a shot against the bar as Barca, resting Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez, made a strong start against Leganes, who began the game bottom of the table.

Barca's comfortable hold on the game dramatically fell apart shortly after the interval when Nabil El Zhar headed home a looping cross in the 52nd minute and 20-year-old Oscar Rodriguez turned in a second goal barely sixty seconds later to the joy of the 12,000 fans crammed into the Butarque stadium.

Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar pulled off a stunning double save to thwart Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic from close range in the closing minutes while Sergi Roberto skied a good opportunity as the unfancied hosts held on to record their first top-flight win over Barcelona.

Real coach Julen Lopetegui bemoaned the side's inability to carry out his game plan of pressing their opponents high up the pitch.

Sevilla blitzed the European champions with Portuguese striker Andre Silva scoring twice in four first half minutes and Wissam Ben Yedder adding another as Real conceded three league goals before the break for the first time since 2003.

"We didn't play as we wanted and we paid for it in the first half, conceding two goals in quick succession. We came here with a plan of pressing them and we didn't do it as we'd have liked to, that's clear," Lopetegui told a news conference.

"In the second half, we matched them for play and had chances but couldn't score. In the end, you can say it was a very bad performance from us and a very good one from Sevilla."

The Catalans were playing a fourth game of a hectic spell of seven matches in 23 days and even though they drew 2-2 at home to Girona after Valverde rested players, the coach rotated his side again, bringing in Thomas Vermaelen for Alba to deploy an unfamiliar back three.

He also started without Suarez to give forward Munir El Haddadi a first competitive start since returning on loan from Alaves and Barca lacked fluidity up front even though they took the lead when Coutinho received a cross-field pass from Messi and flicked the ball into the air before volleying home.

Leganes had done well to limit their deficit to one goal and they came flying out of the blocks after half-time, chasing down their opponents with aggressive pressing.

Vermaelen was caught out of position when El Zhar headed in the equaliser and Gerard Pique was caught in possession moments later, allowing Rodriguez to slam the ball into the roof of the net and give Leganes, in their third season in the top flight, an unlikely yet thoroughly deserved win.

Real have three days to recover from the humbling defeat before Saturday's crunch local derby against Atletico Madrid, who have climbed up the table on the back of two straight wins. "It was a difficult game and in the first half they played with more intensity and we could not match them," Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said.

"The derby is a huge game and you never want to lose it, the pressure always exists in those games and the fact that we lost today doesn't change that. We have to lift ourselves up, prepare for Saturday and try to win."

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