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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Julen Lopetegui on the brink as Real Madrid lose at home to Levante

Real Madrid failed to get their season back on track as they fell at home to Levante, piling the pressure on Julen Lopetegui.

football Updated: Oct 20, 2018 23:46 IST
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale applauds their fans after the match.
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale applauds their fans after the match. (REUTERS)

Julen Lopetegui looks to be on the brink of being sacked as Real Madrid head coach after a shock 2-1 home defeat to Levante extended the European champions’ abysmal run of form.

The Madrid boss made five changes on Saturday in a bid to end a run of four games without a win or a goal.

But Jose Luis Morales and a Roger Marti penalty put Levante two up inside 13 minutes in a dramatic match that included three VAR reviews.

Madrid broke their club record for the longest goalless run in their 116-year history by failing to score in the first 56 minutes, a streak finally ended by Marcelo’s strike 18 minutes from time.

But despite hitting the woodwork on three occasions, Madrid fell to defeat that leaves Lopetegui under further pressure to save his job, with the Clasico taking place in just eight days’ time.

It took only six minutes for Levante to strike, Sergio Postigo’s long ball completely missed by Raphael Varane, allowing captain Jose Luis Morales to round Thibaut Courtois and slide into an empty net.

Before they knew it, Madrid were two down. Varane handled when trying to challenge Marti, and after a lengthy VAR review led to a penalty award, the striker took the spot-kick himself and beat Courtois, who got a hand on it.

In a frantic period, Madrid thought they had one back when Marco Asensio headed in from under the bar after Casemiro’s aerial effort smashed off the woodwork, but another long VAR review denied the hosts due to offside.

Madrid hit the bar again when Mariano Diaz sent a thumping header towards goal, while Lucas Vazquez somehow failed to beat Oier Olazabal from close range in another big opportunity.

Just before half-time, a magnificent Levante passing move, finished off by Ruben Rochina, was then ruled out through VAR due to offside in the build-up.

Lopetegui brought on Gareth Bale on at half-time, while Karim Benzema and Dani Ceballos soon followed.

But it took some time for the breakthrough, Marcelo lashing in a right-footed 15-yard strike after Benzema’s assist.

The striker’s curling 20-yard strike hit the post in the closing stages, and that was the nearest Madrid came to an equaliser, with Mariano’s late tap-in ruled out for offside in a match that kept the officials busy.

Levante should have made it three at the death, Morales firing wide when clean through, before the final whistle was greeted by boos from the home fans.

First Published: Oct 20, 2018 18:41 IST

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