Levante’s Jose Luis Morales (right) scores against Real Madrid during their Spanish League match in Valdebebas on Saturday. Agence France-Presse
Real Madrid were handed a 2-1 loss by Levante on Saturday, to give Atletico Madrid the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of La Liga. Already without their injured captain Sergio Ramos and Covid-stricken coach Zinedine Zidane, the match at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium saw Real down to 10 men as Eder Militao was sent off in the game’s 9th minute.
Zidane’s defending champions sit second in the table, seven points behind Atletico, who have two games in hand and face Cadiz on Sunday. Militao was sent off for bringing down Levante’s Sergio Leon, who was darting towards goal when Militao cut across him on the edge of the penalty area.
But Marco Asensio gave Madrid the lead four minutes later only to see Jose Luis Morales equalise before half-time before Roger Marti made up for missing a penalty by scoring the winner.
Levante drew level before the interval as Jorge Miramon’s cross to the back post was expertly caught on the half-volley by Morales.
Vinicius Junior came on for Madrid in the second half but made the worst possible start by kicking away the leg of Carlos Clerc, who was shown by VAR to have had his right foot inside the area.
Thibaut Courtois pushed away the penalty by Roger and with 11 men, Madrid might have seized the momentum.
Instead, their tired legs gave way and a well-worked short corner by Levante gave a clear sight of goal to Roger, who made amends by firing into the corner.
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman had admitted earlier on Saturday his team “have to be realistic” about their chances of overturning Atletico’s considerable lead in the table.
And with Real Madrid slipping up again, it will now take a seismic collapse for Atletico to miss out on repeating their incredible La Liga triumph in 2014.
It also leaves the Champions League as Real Madrid’s only obvious chance of a trophy this season after they lost in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals and went out to Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey. Madrid face Atalanta next month in the Champions League’s last 16.
Spanish League results on Saturday:
Eibar 0 Sevilla 2 (Ocampos 28-pen, Jordan 55); Real Madrid 1 (Asensio 13) Levante 2 (Morales 32, Roger 78)