Real Madrid stunned by Morales strike after Messi scores four
The day started badly for Real Madrid, as Lionel Messi hit four to leave Barcelona at the head of the all-time LaLiga scoring charts, which Los Blancos had led since 1963. And it ended even worse, with an unexpected defeat at Levante - one that saw them relinquish top spot in the league. Now, with the Clásico coming up, Barça are two points ahead of Madrid. Having been in such a good place, Zinedine Zidane's men have let doubts creep in, with goal-shyness the chief worry. And before facing Barça, they have their Champions League clash with Manchester City, a game the fans will be starting to view with concern. What's more, Eden Hazard looked to be back just in time for the season's business end, but limped off after a quiet display.
Levante make profligate Real Madrid pay
Yet Madrid started really well, playing with purpose and precision, with the trio of Marcelo, Hazard and Karim Benzema linking up nicely on the left. There was a fluency about the way they attacked Levante, whose goalkeeper, Aitor Fernández, has made more saves than any other in LaLiga this term. In the first half, Fernández had to pull off a good few, but none were particularly difficult. Madrid got several shots in, both on target and off, but they weren't good ones. As the game progressed towards the break, Levante began to grow in belief and shake off Madrid's domination - a trend that became all the more pronounced in the second half, when the visitors lost shape and the hosts seized their opportunity.
And boy did they seize it: catching the defence out of position and Thibaut Courtois musing on the ephemeral nature of life, José Luis Morales thumped in a stunner with his left. We've seen Madrid get through games by dint of pure cutting edge when all else fails, but they're not that team anymore. Benzema's fine scoring form has tailed off, Hazard is the cavalry that won't arrive, Gareth Bale deserted long ago, Luka Jovic is sleepwalking through the season, Rodrygo has been sent to help out Raúl's Castilla, Mariano Díaz is out of the picture and Vinicius does everything right except score. A great win for Levante that establishes them in the comfort of mid-table, at the expense of a Madrid side who have hit a bump in the road.
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