Mourinho home joy as Real close gap on Barcelona
Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho celebrated nine years unbeaten in the league on home soil as his Real Madrid team defeated Levante 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu to close to within two points of league leaders Barcelona.sports Updated: Feb 20, 2011 10:55 IST
Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho celebrated nine years unbeaten in the league on home soil as his Real Madrid team defeated Levante 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu to close to within two points of league leaders Barcelona.
First half goals from French forward Karim Benzema and Portuguese centre-back Ricardo Carvalho yesterday helped Real make it a perfect 12 home league wins and keep the pressure on Barcelona in the title race.
It also meant Mourinho extended his personal unbeaten home league run with FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real to nine years with his last league home defeat back on February 23, 2002 when his Porto side lost 3-2 to Beira Mar.
Barcelona, beaten 2-1 by Arsenal in their midweek Champions League match, will hope to respond with a home win over Atletic Bilbao on Sunday to restore their five-point lead at the summit.
"We don't depend on ourselves and really the pressure is on us in second, not on the team at the top," Mourinho said. "I don't know if I will watch Barcelona v Athletic (Bilbao) on Sunday. We are travelling (to Lyon) on Monday so perhaps I will eat out with the family."
Mourinho rested Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso, and Emmanuel Adebayor with Tuesday's Champions League match in Lyon in mind, but his side were still too strong for a Levante side they had thrashed 8-0 in the Kings Cup.
"We gave a rest to (Mesut) Ozil and Xabi (Alonso). Everyone knows they will play against Lyon, who have had 24 hours more rest than us," added Mourinho.
With just six minutes gone Argentine di Maria dribbled past three defenders before crossing to give Benzema an easy tap-in for only his third league goal of the season.
Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo all went close before Madrid got their second from a set-piece five minutes before the break.
Ronaldo floated in a cross from the left and compatriot Carvalho volleyed home from close range as Levante got their back line all wrong.
Levante, two points above the bottom three, had won their last three league outings but hardly troubled stand-in Real goalkeeper Antonio Adan, deputising for the suspended Iker Casillas, with the 23-year-old having a comfortable game on his Real home league debut.
German international midfielder Sami Khedira had the chance to make it 3-0 early in the second half but didn't get a good connection on his shot and goalkeeper Gustavo Munua saved.