Real Madrid 1-1 Levante: La Liga champions held again at the Bernabeu
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 09/09/17 5:50pm
Real Madrid dropped more points at the Bernabeu as Levante held the Liga champions to a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon.
Levante had gone ahead through Ivi (12) after a long throw-in confused a disorderly Real defence, but they responded before the break thanks to a Lucas Vazquez tap-in (36).
Gareth Bale, who started on the bench, came on to replace an injured Karim Benzema, and the Welshman missed a hat-trick of chances to put Real ahead.
A frantic finale saw Marcelo sent off (89) for a needless kick out at Jefferson Lerma when both players were on the ground. The dismissal came immediately after Levante goalkeeper Raul superbly denied the Brazilian from netting the winner.
Real Madrid: Casilla (6), Carvajal (6), Ramos (7), Nacho (6), Marcelo (5), Vazquez (7), Kroos (6), Theo Hernandez (7), Llorente (6), Benzema (6), Asensio (7)
Subs: Bale (7), Isco (7), Kovacic (6)
Levante: Raul (8), Lopez (7), Postigo (6), Rodriguez Benito (7), Tono (6), Ivi (7), Lerma (8), Suarez Pier (6), Campana (7), Jason (6), Alegria (6)
Subs: Samu (6), Lopez (6), Boateng (6)
Man of the match: Raul
The draw comes two weeks after Real shared the spoils with Valencia, and it allows Barcelona to open up a five-point gap on their title rivals, with the Catalan giants in action at home to Espanyol later this evening, live on Sky Sports Football.
The hosts fell behind early on as a long throw into the box from Ivan Lopez found Ivi, and while the forward fluffed his first attempt, the ball scooped over Carvajal and allowed him to slot the ball beyond Kiko Casilla after 12 minutes.
Real were at sixes and sevens in defence as the long throw came in, and Zinedine Zidane was then forced to reshuffle his attack as Benzema hobbled off injured.
Zinedine Zidane opted to rotate his Real side, with Casemiro and Gareth Bale both named on the bench, while Luka Modric was left out of the squad. Theo Hernanez, Lucas Vazquez and Marcos Llorente came into the starting XI.
On came Bale to play in the No 9 position, and the Welshman started brightly as his team-mates looked to utilise his pace over the top.
Bale was close to equalising for Real, but he found himself just behind Vazquez, who was on hand to tap in the rebound (36) after Raul kept out Sergio Ramos' header.
Real almost went ahead moments later, but Raul superbly denied Bale from 15 yards out after the forward opted to strike a bobbling ball with the outside of his left foot.
Another opportunity did fall Bale's way just after the hour-mark, but his header sailed just over from Vazquez's pinpoint cross.
After 83 minutes, Asensio almost found the winner but Raul got down to parry his effort after Bale's neat flick played the 21-year-old through on goal.
Real continued to throw everyone forward, and Bale's final opportunity fell in the 88th minute, but he could only direct his header narrowly wide of the far post from six yards out.
One minute later, Marcelo forced Raul into making another superb save, and a red card was swiftly shown to the Brazilian, who directed his boot into the back of Lerma after the duo collided and fell to the ground.
Man of the match - Raul
It's difficult to look beyond Levante goalkeeper Raul, who was destined for a busy afternoon once his side took an early lead. He failed to hold onto Ramos' header as Vazquez equalised, but he produced a number of impressive saves to deny the hosts - most notably from Marcelo, moments before the Brazilian's bizarre red.
Real Madrid are in midweek Champions League action, facing Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday at the Bernabeu. Levante are back on Sky Sports Football next Saturday as they play host to Valencia from midday.