Real Madrid welcomed Levante to Valdebebas for their La Liga clash on Saturday afternoon with no margin for error.
Los Blancos started the day seven points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid and three ahead of third-placed Barcelona. Zinedine Zidane’s men had to win the game to cut the distance ahead of them and maintain the breathing space behind.
Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by third-tier and ten-man Alcoyano, following on from an exit from the Supercopa de Espana at the semi-final stage against Athletic Bilbao.
2 – @LevanteUDen captain José Luis Morales 🇪🇸 is one of the two players to have scored in different @LaLigaEN games against Real Madrid since the start of 2020, after Joselu Mato 🇪🇸 for Alavés. Major. pic.twitter.com/xwogl9xaW6
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 30, 2021
As well as being off the pace domestically, they’ve been unconvincing in Europe, and are preparing to face a resurgent Atalanta in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Levante, on the other hand, started the day in 13th in the knowledge that victory over their illustrious hosts could carry them as high as ninth, above Athletic.
Madrid didn’t start well. Eder Militao, starting at centre-back ahead of the injured Sergio Ramos, saw a straight red after just nine minutes to leave the field with his team reduced to ten men.
Marco Asensio scored four minutes later to put Madrid ahead only for Jose Luis Morales to get Levante back on level terms in the 32nd minute with a stunning half-volley indicative of his quality.
Levante almost took the lead just after the hour mark, when Vinicius Junior gave away a penalty kick. Thibaut Courtois was on hand to save Madrid’s skin, however, saving from Roger Marti.
Roger got another the bite of the apple in the 78th minute, however, and this time he didn’t disappoint. A short corner culminated in a flick-up and volley to put Levante ahead going into the final ten minutes.
Roger Martí gives Levante the lead against Madrid with a beauty! 🔥
A great short corner routine finishes with a flick up and volley as the striker puts his earlier penalty miss out of his mind 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yFaJyToirO
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) January 30, 2021