Real rotate and slip up at home to Levante
Real Madrid 1 - 1 Levante

Real rotate and slip up at home to Levante

10/09/2017

Reigning La Liga champions Real Madrid dropped points for the second game in a row as Ivi's early opener earned Levante their share of the spoils from a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.

Zinedine Zidane's men were held by Valencia before the international break and Lucas Vazquez's first-half response was only enough for another tie upon the resumption of the league.

Such was Real's frustration at their inability to break down Levante's stubborn defence -- marshalled superbly by goalkeeper Raul -- that wing-back Marcelo saw red at the death.

Real made several changes ahead of Wednesday's Champions League opener against Apoel Nicosia, with Kiko Casilla replacing Keylor Navas in goal while Luka Modric and Casemiro sat out.

The back-line, with Sergio Ramos restored, fell asleep in the 12th minute when Ivan Lopez's long throw-in evaded them all to find Ivi, who just needed to stick out a leg and poke the ball home.

It was Levante's first goal at the Bernabeu since April 2013 -- on that day they would lose 5-1 having taken the lead.

Real fought back with gusto, breakthrough star Marco Asensio only just denied from the middle of the box before Karim Benzema saw a header saved.

Benzema's afternoon was over shortly before the half-hour mark when an injury forced his withdrawal and allowed Gareth Bale to enter the fray.

Before Bale could get his teeth into the match Ivi threatened to double his tally and Levante's lead with a free kick that swerved just past a post.

The Valencian club could not put further daylight between themselves and Real, though, and Vazquez's equaliser in the 36th minute dampened their spirits after a bright first-half showing.

Ramos, back from suspension, could not turn a headed effort home but luckily Vazquez was on hand to tap in the loose ball.

Heading into the break, Bale went close with his head from a Marcelo corner and Toni Kroos forced a smart save from Raul with his driven effort from outside the box.

Levante were determined to capitalise on their position of strength before it slipped away from them and, shortly after the restart, Alex Alegria got Casilla working with an impressive attempt.

There was no denying Real's attacking superiority, however, and Los Blancos kept pouring forward with menace. Substitute Bale should have aimed his header lower on the hour and Kroos might have beaten Raul's dive to find the bottom corner had he applied more power five minutes later.

Even defender Dani Carvahal tried his luck from distance, to no avail.

With the screw tightening, Levante were increasingly grateful for their keeper Raul, who pulled off perhaps his best save of a memorable game when repelling Asensio with eight minutes remaining.

Real's bid to snatch a late winner suffered a major blow when Marcelo lost his temper and lashed out to earn a red card, forcing an unwelcome tactical reshuffle from Zidane as full-time drew near.

Boos turned to gasps and then sighs as Kroos hit the post deep into stoppage time, but Real had been successfully shut out by their promoted opponents.

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