Levante 1-3 Real Madrid: Real move nine points behind Barcelona
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 02/03/16 11:08pm
Real Madrid closed the gap on the top two in La Liga with an unconvincing 3-1 victory over rock-bottom Levante on Wednesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo's 23rd top-flight goal on the season - a 34th-minute penalty - set Madrid on their way to victory before debutant Borja Mayoral forced Levante stopper Diego Marino to turn the ball into his own net four minutes later.
As it happened
Relive the action as Real Madrid closed the gap on the top two in La Liga with a 3-1 win at Levante.
Acosta Deyverson pulled on back for the hosts 80 seconds later, but that was all they could muster as it was left for substitute Isco to wrap up the victory in stoppage time with Real's third.
The result leaves Real nine points behind leaders Barcelona and four behind Madrid rivals Atletico. Levante remain rooted to the foot of La Liga, six points from safety.
With Zinedine Zidane conceding his side's hopes of winning La Liga were over after Sunday's defeat to Atletico Madrid, the Frenchman made five changes ahead of the trip to the Ciudad de Valencia, with Castilla product Mayoral handed his first Los Blancos start.
Levante entered the game cut adrift at the bottom of the table knowing a victory would move them to within three points of safety, and they could have been ahead after five minutes, only for Keylor Navas to keep out Giuseppe Rossi's low effort with an excellent reflex save.
Chances were few and far between in an uneventful opening quarter until Ronaldo missed a gilt-edged opportunity from a corner, heading over from six yards out with the goal gaping on 27 minutes.
After Levante made two fruitless trips into the Real area, the visitors were awarded a free-kick when Lucas Orban brought Lucas Vazquez to the ground in the area, with Ronaldo finishing ruthlessly to Marino's right from 12 yards.
Four minutes later it was two as Mayoral's control, turn and shot at the edge of the Levante area saw his low effort strike the post but crucially cross the line via deflection off the stricken Marino.
Real appeared to down tools after going two ahead as a long ball up field caused panic in the visitors' defence, allowing Deyverson, who twice evaded the offside trap, to slide the ball low past Navas.
After the break, Ronaldo missed two good chances to extend Real's lead, the first following James Rodriguez's superb lofted pass on the left from which he hit against the inside of the post.
Having denied Rossi in the first half, Navas was on hand to keep substitute Ruben Garcia's shot out, which had deflected off Raphael Varane as the full-time whistle approached.
And, having failed to find a way through the Madrid defence, it was left for Isco to wrap up the victory for Zidane's men, slotting home Ronaldo's pull back two minutes into time added on.