Madrid, Aug 23 (AP) | Publish Date: 8/23/2021 11:13:40 AM IST
After defending champion Atletico Madrid edged Elche to add to its winning start in the Spanish league, Real Madrid couldn’t overcome a Levante side that was forced to finish the match with a defender as its goalkeeper.
Atletico won 1-0 at home in the return of fans to the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Sunday, becoming the only team with two wins to begin the league. Then Madrid couldn’t manage more than a 3-3 draw even though Levante played nearly 10 minutes without a true goalkeeper.
Madrid failed to get a shot on target after Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez was sent off in the 87th minute for using his hands outside the area to stop a breakaway. Defender Ruben Vezo took over as goalkeeper because the hosts had already made all five substitutions, but he didn’t have to make any saves in the remainder of regulation and stoppage time.
Madrid had opened the scoring in the first half with Gareth Bale, but the visitors had to come from behind twice after halftime to salvage the draw with a pair of goals by Vinicius Junior. Levante had been the last team to defeat Madrid in the league. Madrid won only two of its last five league matches against Levante.
Bale scored his first goal of the season in the fifth minute with a low shot from inside the area after a set up by Karim Benzema, who made a run from near midfield before passing the ball to the Wales forward, who had been on a loan with Tottenham last season.
Bale hadn’t scored for Madrid since January 2020. He finished that season with only three goals, his lowest-ever tally with the Spanish club.
Roger Marti equalized about 30 seconds into the second half, and Jose Campana put the hosts ahead with a shot into the top corner in the 57th.
Madrid evened the match in a 73rd-minute breakaway, with Vinicius Junior finding the net after a nice pass by Casemiro from Madrid’s own field. But six minutes later Rober Pier gave Levante the lead again from close range off a set piece.
Vinicius Junior pulled Madrid even again with a neat angled shot that struck the far post before going in.
Madrid was depleted by the injuries of some key players such as Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Marcelo.