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Real Madrid v Levante

Real Madrid 1-2 Levante match report: LaLiga 2018-19

Two early first half goals (Morales and a VAR awarded penalty from Roger) stunned Lopetegui's side, who set a club record goal drought before Marcelo's consolation strike.

Update:
Real Madrid stunned by Levante. Match report.
SUSANA VERAREUTERS

Levante pulled off their first victory at the Bernabéu and only the second in the Valencian club’s history to pile further pressure on the slumped shoulders of Julen Lopeteguiwho is surely now a man on borrowed time after overseeing Real Madrid’s worst drought in front of goal since the institution's foundation in 1902 to cap a return of three losses and a draw in his last four Liga outings.  

Paco López, the hero of The Frogs’ leap up the standings to safety last season, arrived in Madrid with a clear plan and executed it to perfection. Packing his midfield to stifle Real’s creative outlets and hitting on the break, the visitors went 2-0 up inside 13 minutes, a lucky enough number for Levante but the final statistic that will probably do for Lopetegui, whose grasp of the precariousness of his situation was apparently absent from his own pre-game preparations.

José Luis Morales capitalised on a catastrophic error by Raphael Varane to open the scoring, ghosting in behind the France international who had completely misjudged a hit-and-hope from the opposition half before rounding Thibaut Courtois and crashing a shot into the unguarded net.

Varane was under the spotlight again moments later when the referee signaled to the eye in the sky, which concluded that the Real defender had handled in his own area. Roger stepped up to take the kick and although Courtois guessed his intention correctly, the Belgium international’s hand was not sufficient to stop a powerful shot that crept inside the post.

From there, Real’s fate was utterly out of their hands and Lopetegui, who had benched Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, powerless to decide his own fate. The Madrid manager has looked increasingly out of his depth and while his touchline exhortations looked good for the cameras, they had little effect on a team that are devoid of purpose and direction. A more telling pan to the stands showed Florentino Pérez examining his phone as chaos descended under him. A speed dial managerial list, perhaps?

Lopetegui's Real Madrid lost at sea

Julen Lopetegui and Karim Benzema react to defeat in the Bernabéu.
Full screen
Julen Lopetegui and Karim Benzema react to defeat in the Bernabéu.SUSANA VERAREUTERS

Real’s defensive struggles were all to apparent throughout the game and Levante threatened every time they broke. The hosts can point to bad luck – and the vagaries of VAR – after having a goal disallowed and hitting the woodwork three times but Lopetegui’s side only genuinely reacted with the introduction of Bale and Benzema, the old hands helping to steady the tiller after the break.

Benzema, particularly, climbed from the bench with purpose and his glorious effort deserved more than a rattle of Oier’s upright but Real cannot complain about the eventual result. Marcelo eventually ended a barren spell unprecedented in Real’s 116-year existence with a smash into the roof of the net after good work from the Frenchman and although a 10-minute period of ascendancy ensued, Lopetegui is not being paid a king’s ransom to deliver a pauper’s lunch.

Levante weathered the storm and could have made it 3-1 when Morales poked wide on the break in stoppage time but the clouds gathering over the Bernabéu have taken on a more permanent hue in recent weeks as Lopetegui has lurched from disaster to defiant press conference and back again. Levante were good value for their famous victory and nothing that unfolds in its aftermath should deflect from that but this Real Madrid are a pale shadow of last season’s Champions League winners and in desperate need of a Churchillian chest-thumper to steer the club back on course.

Lopetegui is not that manager. He never was, and Pérez will have drawn his own conclusions from his lofty perch as his team departed the pitch to a chorus of jeers

Real Madrid – Levante live online: as it happened

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