This Real Madrid side are like a tango: a rollercoaster of emotions. Their 4-1 win at Mestalla (preceded in LaLiga by the thrashing of Depor) had brought their fans renewed cheer. Indeed, Zinedine Zidane was so encouraged that, on the eve of the Levante clash, he had insisted his team were still in title contention, which was certainly going some. And the start Real made at the Ciutat de Valencia did seem to back up these good vibes, as an assured side with no little presence dominated their hosts, pinning them back against their 18-yard box. The full-backs looked really good, as did Karim Benzema. And, from a corner, the opening goal arrived - one that promised to be the first of many. But shortly before the break, Real carelessness allowed José Luis Morales to lead a counter-attack which, despite Keylor Navas' initial parry, culminated in an Emmanuel Boateng equaliser.
Substitute Isco seemed to have got Real Madrid out of jail
That goal sucked the belief out of Real Madrid - who had been guilty of growing a little too confident in the first half - and, at the same time, infused Levante with it. What's more, Los Blancos became even more disorganised than they usually are when the 'bbC' is on the field. Morales (who, by the way, is a terrific player: quick, clever, hard-working), was at the heart of a good few formidable counters, which were intermingled with spots of decent enough stuff from Real Madrid that on each occasion lacked cutting edge. Zidane then took off Gareth Bale, whose influence on the game had declined, and replaced him with Isco. And it worked. The away team enjoyed a good period, and duly got their reward: with Levante at sea at the back, Benzema chased down the ball on the touchline, won possession and fed Isco, whose angled shot gave keeper Oier Olazábal little chance.
Levante's second leveller follows shock Cristiano substitution
With Real Madrid now 2-1 to the good, Zidane substituted Cristiano Ronaldo for Marco Asensio. The Portuguese wasn't playing well, by any means, but his withdrawal precipitated something of a twist in the tale. Real grew nervous, and Levante took a step forwards - and played some good football in the process, with Juan Ramón López Muñiz displaying bravery in the changes he made, and Morales leading the charge at all times. Tired of giving Marcelo a torrid time on the right, the winger switched to the left flank, where he also had the better of Dani Carvajal. One opportunity followed another, before the inevitable happened: Real were pegged back for a second time, sparking jubilation among a home support that had thrown itself behind its team, and bewilderment among the visitors, whose optimism of the last two weeks has gone up in smoke.