Levante 1-2 Real Madrid
It was a tough 90 minutes to watch at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia if you are a Levante UD supporter.
This La Liga duel between Levante and Real Madrid was already booked as a one-sided affair. Plenty of La Liga 2019 predictions talking about this match saw this as an easy win for Real Madrid. However, history pointed to this being a tighter affair than what is usually expected.
It thus comes as a surprise for some that Bale emerged as the lead man while Los Blancos walked away as 1-2 winners in Valencia. Levante would feel that they were robbed of the three points while the visiting Madrid fans would point to the stat sheet and weave a story of deserved dominance.
Whether you would believe the home or visiting fans would be up to the SBOBET football punter, but this game definitely has its share of La Liga 2019 highlights that will be talked about until the next match day.
Highlights of the game
One thing a lot of Spanish football fans would agree on is that Madrid lacked attacking prowess ever since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure. They may have taken Atletico Madrid’s name through the mud at the Wanda Metropolitano, but that doesn’t hide the fact that they struggle to score goals.
That struggle was expressed in detail during the first twenty minutes of the match. Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior did what they could to get themselves ahead of their mid-table opponents, but they weren’t able to do much against Granotas‘ 3-5-2 formation.
In fact, the hosts were pressing for much of the first half. The first real scoring threat of the match came from them as Roger Marti met a 23rd-minute corner to power it towards the goal. His goal was denied by the right post, unfortunately.
Vinicius Junior finally had a crack at the goal on 31 minutes when the Levante backline gave him all the space he needed to kick a beautiful effort to the bottom-right corner. Aitor Fernandez rose to the occasion and pushed out the ball for a corner that went nowhere.
Some of the Madrid fans definitely grew frustrated as Madrid began ramping up their attacks without much success. I bet that they were already pining for a certain Belgian star to make the jump from London.
However, they would finally luck out as a VAR review confirmed that a Levante defender committed a handball violation just inside the box. Karim Benzema was tasked with the spot-kick, and the French striker duly delivered after sending Aitor Fernandez the wrong way.
Paco Lopez had to make some adjustments after that penalty, and his talk translated well onto the pitch as Roger Marti almost scored a nice shot at the start of the second half. The Levante boss probably reminded them that they managed to pull this off last time they played Madrid.
It took some bit of a struggle, but they finally managed to put the game on level terms. Jose Morales launched a quick lob from the left, and Roger Marti was quick to fire the ball past Thibaut Courtois. The ball got a friendly tap from the right post and went straight to the net. The Estadi Ciutat roared to life, and the game was afoot again.
What followed the goal was a series of battles to get the winning goal as both sides need the three points. However, the entire stadium was about to be rattled by the controversial foul that happened in the 77th minute.
In an attempt to clear the ball from the corner, Cheick Doukoure apparently fouled Casemiro. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot without as much as a VAR review. Gareth Bale took and converted the spot-kick after quite an eccentric run-up to catch Aitor Fernandez unawares.
The second penalty definitely took the wind out of Levante, and there was too little time to try and win this match. The official then got busy as he took out his yellow card two more times. Moreover, his last two yellow cards send Nacho and Ruben Rochina to the locker rooms early.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the home fans as they felt that they played well against Madrid. Moreover, they would protest the foul made against Casemiro as a dive.
They would argue that this wasn’t the first time VAR (or lack thereof) saved Real Madrid’s hide, after all.
The stat sheets would tell you that Madrid completely dominated the game. They had more time with the football, made more goal attempts, and saw more of their attempts go on target. They also had a lot more free kicks and corner attempts than their hosts.
However, it was more of a story of two halves than it was total domination by Madrid. Levante had nine attempts despite none of them were on target. Their hard-nosed approach to the game also stopped Los Blancos from finding their groove.
It was a busy day in the office for the referee as he had to take out his yellow card eight times and his red card twice.
Levante are still far from relegation danger, but defeats in the next couple of games would see them edge closer to the drop. They must get positive results against Leganes, Villarreal, and Real Sociedad to secure their spot in the league.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid have a nine-point gap to cover. They have a chance on closing in when they welcome Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu for the Copa del Rey and the league. If Los Blancos manage to win both of those games, they would then be full of confidence when they face Ajax in the second leg of their Champions League match.
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