Thanks all for your company - ta-ra.
- 2nd Half
- Vinícius JúniorAsensio83'
- Bale (P)78'
- 1st Half
- Benzema (P)43'
Levante UD - Real Madrid
Liga - 24 February 2019
Liga – Follow the Football match between Levante UD and Real Madrid live with Eurosport. The match starts at 19:45 on 24 February 2019. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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That was an excellent performance from Levante who, on the balance of play, were well worth a point, at least. But there is a handy metric for measuring who deserves to win a football match and it's called the score, so Madrid close the gap on Barcelona to six points. If they can beat them next weekend, who knows. Levante, meanwhile, are still 10 off the 40 they'll want to avoid relegation, but if they play like that every week they'll be fine.
Full-time: Levante 1-2 Real Madrid
There's not much going on here - Madrid have disappeared the final stages in very professional manner.
Simon whips in a cross, but Modric is there to calmly kick clear.
Levante have gone, I think. Madrid have been pretty calm since taking the lead.
There'll be four added minutes.
Final roll for Levante: Vukcevic replaces Bardhi.
Ahahahahaha! RED CARD RUBEN ROCHINA! He gobs off from the bench, and the ref shows him a second yellow. Imagine having to go home, have your missus ask how the game went, and then be forced to tell her that.
This has been a really enjoyable game.
RED CARD NACHO! With all these bookings, that was coming. Cabaco looks to move the ball down the line to Simon and Nacho is already sprung into action, pulling him down and trudging off after an inevitable second yellow. Madrid have four minutes plus injury-time to survive.
Madrid work the ball out of defence nicely, and Campana slides in on Modric without a prayer of getting it, landing studs on ankle. He's booked.
Final change for Madrid: Vinicius off, Asensio on.
On the touchline, Pedro Lopez, a Levante sub, gobs off to the ref. He's booked.
Why, though, did Fernandez go again? Bale stuttered twice, so was clearly hoping the keeper would move and clearly indicated that too.
GOAL! Levante 1-2 Real Madrid (Bale pen) Bale pauses, pauses again, and as Fernandez goes right, rolls left. Then as Lucas comes to celebrate, he shakes him off, presumably in vex at his lack of starting time.
PENALTY TO MADRID! Levante can't clear the ball first time, and then when it bobbles about and Doucoure has a swipe, he apparently gets a piece of Casemiro, who collapses! I'm not at all sure about that, but VAR allows the call to stand!
Bale, appearing in the middle, spreads nicely to Reguilon, and he motors past Doucoure then crosses low; a deflection off Cabaco takes the ball behind.
So where will Bale go? In the middle, or out wide? I've never liked him on the right, where his lack of technical ability - relatively - make him a bit awkward. I'd always play him down the left, where his physicality is almost unstoppable - in the middle, he needs to be on the half-turn too much, and with space behind, not in front.
Change apiece: Roger, who's been brilliant, is replaced by Raphael; Bale replaces Benzema.
Aaargh! Lucas sends Vinicius away and he does brilliantly to hold off Vezo with pace and strength. But when he gets into a shooting position, he opens his body to telegraph his shot and can't impart requisite pace to remove the keeper from the equation, so Fernandez is able to shove away.
Change for Madrid: Valverde replaces Kroos, a change that looks more like an effort to keep a key man fresh for more important occasions that an attempt to change the flow of things here.
Lucas Vasquez is late on Cabaco, sort of poking the ball with one foot and dragging the other through the back of his legs. Booking.
I am sombre.
So what do Madrid have? Last weekend, the answer was the cube root of nowt.
GOAL! Levante 1-1 Real Madrid (Roger) This is so well-earned. Morales goes down the left and crosses low to the near post, where Roger is so sharp, sliding in ahead of Varane and poke-flicking a gorgeous finish high inside the far post. Brilliant!
Vinicius does not wait to be asked. He runs at Cabaco, who can't get side on and doesn't know which way to go, so the ball is easily moved inside him ... but the shot doesn't curl enough and goes just past the far post.
Rochina is late on Benzema for the fun of it and is booked.
Appeals for a penalty as Varane chests and the ball might have feathered his arm, but it looks fine to me.
Very deliberately, Kroos coaxes the free-kick into the middle of the box and Benzema's up ... but can only nod over the top.
Lucas takes possession out on the right and nips inside Campana, who can't help but leave a boot in on his knee. Free-kick Madrid from just outside the box, right-hand side....
Levante have maintained their first-half fire, but can they find their finish their approach work deserves?
Reguilon finds Vinicius, whose low shot from distnce is blocked at source by Mochina.
Levante carry on where they left off, Roger spinning Casemiro in the box, moving him out of the road, and lashing a low shot that Courtois holds. Roger has been very good so far tonight.
We go again.
Back come the teams.
Levante are bitching as the teams go off, but that was a penalty if ever I've seen one. Deliberate handball is not allowed, FIN. They've played well though, and there's something for them in this if they can keep up their level.
Half-time: Levante 0-1 Real Madrid
There'll be one added minute.
Campana finds Rochina, who slides a fine first-time pass through for Roger, who's made a great run ... and he diddles Courtois with the eyes, looking far post and dragging near ... only to hit the base of the post! What a chance that was!
GOAL! Levante 0-1 Real Madrid (Benzema pen) Fernandez goes right, Benzema goes middle-left. Easy.
PENALTY TO MADRID! The ref comes over, sees a frankly playgrounds piece of defending - just wear it on your coupon, man - and points to the spot. Here comes Benzema...
Modric crosses and, five yards away, Bardhi raises an arm to protect his face. Calling VAR!
Cabaco dawdles on the ball outside his box, right-hand side, and Vinicus mugs him, weaving away then inside Rochina, who has to pay to get back in again. Running at goal, though, he can't quite get his body-position right as he tries to make an angle to swivel into a shot, and his legs give out.
Modric to Benzema, who lays off to Kroos, and the ball goes left to Vinicius, who moves the ball into the box with perhaps a little too much power. Benzema finagles it backwards to Kroos, whose sidefooted shot is too weak to mither Fernandez.
Campana is playing well in midfield, floating another clever pass over the top, seeking Roger ... and Varane has to leap to get a foot to it before he does, finding Courtois who is allowed to catch it.
Madrid's midfield just doesn't have the legs to dominate anymore.
Vinicius raids at inside-right but he's wide and from the angle can only twist a low shot towards the near post, which Fernandez saves.
Campana lifts a nice free-kick down the right side of the box and Lucas Vasquez is there first, but his touch - instep, back to goal - isn't good, and tees up Rober for a volleyed snapshot, hooked around the corner, that's only just wide.
Rogers dashes past Casemiro and Nacho, who isn't having it, barging yerman over and taking a booking that keeps him out of the league clasico.
Benzema out to Vinicus down the left and he ducks inside Cabaco, who ploughs through him. No foul, apparently.
Campana spreads wide for Luna, who volleys a first-time cross from the left. But Courtois is paying attention and collects easily enough.
This is excellent from Levante, who've dominated the last 10 minutes. During that time, my system, crashed, so apologies for that.
Roger is late and high, Casemiro takes care to fall down, and that's the first booking of the match.
Levante win a corner down the right and Luna lifts into the middle ... where Rober heads against the post!
Lovely long pass over the top from Cabaco picks out Morales, who chests down gloriously then falls with Carvajal behind him. He and Levante want a penalty, but the ref and VAR say no. It was close - the defender perhaps ran into his back - but it wasn't a clear infraction.
Simon absolutely rousts past Vinicus, but Vinicus does well to come back and force him to check.
Levante will be happy with how this has gone.
I really like the look of Vinicius, who has an excellent appreciation of space, a good for a pass, and the moxie to chase when things don't work out. He needs to score more, but that should come.
Incidentally, Madrid's next two games are both at home, and both against Barcelona. First, they have the Cup semi which is 1-1 from the first leg, then the league game.
It's all gone a bit messy.
Nice weaving from Vinicius, who releases Lucas. When the ball doesn't quite work out, Vinicius retrieves it and digs out a cross, which Reguilon retrieves at the back post and dinks; Lucas can't quite direct his header goalwards.
Madrid have woken up. Modric paints a pass for Vinicius Jr, who flicks a low square pass with the outside of his right boot, but Benzema can't collect.
Benzema does really well to turn and twizzle in the box before finding Modric outside him; he whips in a dangerous cross, but at the far post, Lucas Vasquez can't extend his leg enough to poke home.
Madrid haven't had an attack yet.
Talking of Benzema, I wonder if he's now a problem. He's been brilliant before now, whatever Gary Lineker thinks, but with Ronaldo gone, he needs to score more than he needs to clear a route to goal.
Rochina comes in off the left and drives hard, low and early, his shot zipping past the near post. Good start from Levante.
Luna goes down the left and crosses low; no one is there on the end of it, but the very presence of the ball causes minor panic in the Madrid box before Nacho humps clear.
Carvajal floats a long, hopeful one in the general direction of Benzema, but Cabaco is there to head away.
Madrid are going to have to break Levante down tonight, but they spring forward and Simon wins a corner...
In case you were wondering where Tono, the Levante left-back is...
Away we go!
The players are already out, and there's an echo on the sound. Great stuff.
So here we go - La Liga on terrestrial telly!
I feel like I'm there.
Back to Madrid and Europe, I wonder if they've got enough to seriously bother it this term. They could get Roma or Porto in the next round, or even Spurs, and sort that easily enough, but after that, beating two good sides consecutively is a problem. Their midfield is amazingly canny, but I'm not sure that physically they can complete with City, Juve or PSG, and without Ronaldo the goal from nothing and goal from something capacity is much diminished.
This'll really get the adrenalin pumping.
Elsewhere, Man City have beaten Chelsea on penalties to retain the League Cup. Highlights included Kepa refusing to come off for penalties then diving over City's first one and Jorginho doing his skip run-up before rolling a backpass to Ederson.
Levante won 4-1 at the execrable Celta Vigo last time out, and they make two changes, both enforced. On the left of the back three, Cabaco is in for Coke, and up front, Roger replaces Mayoral.
After last week's nause, Madrid play closer to their best team. Reguilon is in for Marcelo, who was taken to the cleaners in the second half, Carvajal is back, Nacho is in for the suspended Ramos, Modric is back from suspension so Ceballos, who was anonymous, misses out, and Vinicius Jr replaces Bale.
So Madrid sit third, five points off Atletico and 12 off Barca, tonight being their game in hand on both. Levante are 13th, seven points off the relegation zone, so they almost on the beach but not quite yet.
Madrid made a right old mess last time out, chucking away a home lead to lose to Girona - and actually they could have lost by more. It was probably enough to rule them out of the running for the title, but that was a long shot - more worrying was their failure to raise it when they needed to, a skill they'll need for Europe. They weren't a full-strength, but nonetheless it was a major oversight.
Evening all, and welcome to Levante v Real Madrid!