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Mar 2, 2016 at 8pm UK
Real Madrid
Deyverson (39')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Ronaldo (34' pen.), Marino (38' og.), Isco (92')

Live Commentary: Levante 1-3 Real Madrid - as it happened

:Headline: Live Commentary: Levante 1-3 Real Madrid - as it happened:
Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Real Madrid's 3-1 win over Levante, as the visitors ride their luck before picking up all three points.

Real Madrid were forced to ride their luck as they eventually saw off basement boys Levante 3-1 this evening.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring from the spot, four minutes before full debutant Borja Mayoral played a crucial part in the visiting side's second of the night.

There was some real hope when Deyverson tucked home prior to the interval but, after plenty of second-half pressure, Isco came off the bench to get his side back on the winning trail.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

Hello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the La Liga showdown between Levante and Real Madrid at the Estadio Ciutat de Valencia. The hosts head into this game sitting bottom of the table and in desperate need of points, but all eyes will be on Zinedine Zidane's side who are seemingly in disarray at this moment in time.
Los Blancos have failed to win in back-to-back games, including a 1-0 defeat to rivals Atletico at the weekend, leaving them in desperate need of a boost here tonight. Press reports in Spain overnight suggest that Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos have both handed in a transfer request, making this an extremely difficult period in Zidane's senior managerial bow.
If Madrid's title hopes were hanging by a thread heading into that derby showdown against bogey side Atleti at the weekend, then they are now surely over for good. Twelve points is the difference between Los Blancos and a formidable Barcelona outfit, while the Rojiblancos sit seven points ahead having played one game more. All Zidane and his charges can do at the moment is look to get back on track and hope - pray, even - that Barca slip up massively along the way.
With Villarreal hot on their heels, Madrid are currently looking over their shoulder rather than focusing on any potential charge for the title. Their Champions League ambitions remain well on track, though, thanks to a positive 2-0 win away at Roma a fortnight ago, so it may be a case of putting all their eggs in one basket as far as the remainder of this campaign goes.
All the talk in Spain of late has centred around Madrid; no real surprise when taking into account the comments made by superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo on the back of that horror home defeat. The point CR7 was trying to make may have been twisted somewhat, but the message remains the same nonetheless - he is not happy with the contribution made by his 'lesser' teammates during this difficult period in the club's history.
That outburst may suggest why a couple of the Spanish nationals are running with the story surrounding Ronaldo's future, claiming that the ex-Manchester United man may well be on his way come the summer. The stats suggest that the Portuguese is still hitting the heights that he always has done during his Bernabeu tenure, yet a closer look shows that he is fast running the risk of becoming a flat-track bully. One way or another, talk of a move to Paris Saint-Germain - or indeed Man United - will not go away between now and the end of the season.
On top of the talk surrounding Ronaldo and Ramos's futures in the Spanish capital, James Rodriguez and Isco have also been tipped with a summer exit. It could all very well be paper talk, but these suggestions of unhappiness in the camp all comes back to the disappointing run of results of late. We may only be in the opening days of Spring, but already Madrid's domestic league and cup hopes are at an end.
Many supporters point the finger of blame at the man at the top - not Zinedine Zidane, but president Florentino Perez. On the anniversary of his last departure from the famous club, the elder statesman has again come in for major criticism of late, largely down to some highly questionable decisions. Take the farcical David de Gea collapsed transfer last summer, for example, or the comical expulsion from this season's Copa del Rey.
You simply cannot afford to score own goals such as those and expect to challenge a Barcelona side that many will argue are the best club side of all time. Bringing in superstar players and hoping that they will fit into a system is certainly no easy task, but it was something Carlo Ancelotti appeared to be doing just fine en route to the famous La Decima. With the popular Italian gone, and Rafael Benitez following close behind, it is now down to Zidane to steady the ship and bring some success.
Things certainly started in a positive fashion for the Frenchman, winning back-to-back games on home soil and scoring 10 goals in the process, but the away day frailties soon crept in. Two games without victory heading into this one now leaves Zidane with an almighty task and, while he is not exactly under pressure from supporters, he did hint earlier this week that he may be on his way in a few months' time. This really is an uncertain period in Los Blancos' proud history.
After a positive enough start to his Real Madrid bow, things have turned sour for Zinedine Zidane amid talk that star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos want out of the club. Los Blancos find themselves 12 points off runaway leaders Barcelona with games fast running down, with the best hope of success this season coming in European competition.
DID YOU KNOW? Real Madrid are the division's leading scorers so far this season, finding the net 71 times in total despite the absence of some key attacking players of late. Opponents Levante, on the other hand, have scored just 24 goals in their 26 games - the lowest tally in Spain's top flight.
On the subject of Ronaldo, the forward has bagged 34 goals in 35 games this term, yet it is still argued by many that he is underperforming. The Portuguese may be fading in the big games, granted, as witnessed at the Bernabeu on Saturday, but he is still more than doing his part to fire the club to glory. The frustration comes elsewhere in the absence of fellow superstar forwards Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, as well as string puller Luka Modric deeper in midfield.
Before taking a look at Levante in a little more depth, as well as the recent meetings between these two teams, let us first check out some incoming team news from the Estadio Ciutat de Valencia...

LEVANTE XI: Marino; Lopez, Feddal, Medjani, Orban; Simao; Lerma, Camarasa, Morales; Deyverson, Rossi

REAL MADRID XI: Navas; Danilo, Varane, Pepe, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos; Lucas, James, Ronaldo; Mayoral

The big news as far as Madrid are concerned is the inclusion of youngster Borja Mayoral as the lone striker. The teenager came off the bench during the defeat to Atleti last time out, and he is tonight thrown in for his first start in the absence of Benzema. Mayoral certainly knows how the find the net at youth level, so can he now step up in his side's time of need?
There is also a start in midfield for Casemiro, who fills in for the influential Luka Modric. Gareth Bale is back in training this week but still a week or so away from returning, so Lucas Vasquez is given the nod out wide. Pepe and Nacho fill in for suspended duo Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal, meanwhile, in a Madrid side boasting real quality but still lacking some real top talents.
In terms of the home side, they have made two changes from the 3-0 defeat to Villarreal last time out. Tono and Joan Verdu both drop out, while Ivan Lopez and Lucas Orban are reinstated into the starting ranks. David Navarro picked up a red card in that loss to Villarreal and therefore also sits out this one, but Jose Luis Morales - who has four goals in his last four outings here - is fit enough to start.

LEVANTE SUBS: Ruben, Verza, Juanfran, Victor Casadesus, Cuero, Ruben Garcia, Verdu

REAL MADRID SUBS: Casilla, Kovacic, Jese, Isco, Odegaard, Llorente, Tejero

Hot prospects Mateo Kovacic and Jese are among the Madrid back-up options this evening, as is Isco who will provide some attacking support if required. It is by no means the strongest Los Blancos bench, however, with youngster Martin Odegaard among those looking to make an impression under ex-Castilla boss Zidane. Pedro Lopez misses out on the Levante squad altogether, meanwhile, due to a knee problem.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 13 goals in his last 12 outings, and 34 in 35 overall, yet some suggest the Portuguese has to do more to drag Real Madrid back into title contention. His credentials against the division's lesser sides are certainly not in question, though, and he will fancy himself to add a few more to his burgeoning tally against the La Liga's bottom-placed team this evening.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Real Madrid have won each of the last five matches between these two sides, conceding just two goals in the process. Goals from Marcelo, Ronaldo and Jese earlier this season helped earn a straightforward 3-0 success on home soil in better times for the club. Levante's last victory in this fixture came in the 2011-12 campaign - the year after they earned promotion to the big time.
So much of the spotlight heading into this game has been placed on Madrid, then, but things are hardly rosy for tonight's hosts Levante. They sit bottom of the pile heading into the final few months of the season, some six points from safety and with just five wins to their name all season. Three of those victories have come in their eight games this calendar year, however, so there is still hope of maintaining their top-flight status into a seventh year.
If the title race is being dominated by Barcelona, then the fight to avoid relegation at the other end of the division is certainly starting to heat up. There remains just six points between the bottom five sides, with Las Palmas doing their best this week to pull themselves further clear. Time really is ticking down for the Valencia-based outfit, though, meaning that picking up points tonight really must be on the agenda.
A recent 3-0 triumph over fellow strugglers Getafe certainly provided real hope, but defeat to Villarreal - a side chasing down Madrid in third - last time out has left them stranded at the foot of the table. All their victories this season have come at home, while they also managed to restrict Barcelona to just a two-goal win here this time last month. The lack of goals is a real worry, yet if they can snatch something this evening against the run of play their survival aspirations will receive an almighty boost.
With kickoff now a little over 10 minutes away, let us check out the pre-match views from both camps heading into this La Liga showdown on the East Coast of Spain.

Rubi: "It's time to keep fighting. The last two away games have not left good feelings and I understand that people are upset. We must turn the page."

Zinedine Zidane: "I am not going to go crazy," he said afterwards. "When we win I don't let it go to my head and when we lose I don't go crazy. I am going to prepare for the [Levante] game. I will put out the best XI and that is that. I am responsible. I have to look for solutions so that doesn't happen again. It is the first defeat at home [since replacing Benitez] and I wasn't expecting it. I knew that it was a difficult game. When you have chances you have to put them in."

So Zidane trying his utmost to keep his emotions grounded heading into this must-win game, knowing that the cracks have been beginning to show for his side. It is arguably the toughest job in world football to take on; never handy when it is your first managerial position at a senior side. All those hours put in for the club's Castilla reserve side must now come into use, starting with a show-stopping performance in Valencia this evening.
PREDICTION! This is the third time in La Liga this season Real Madrid have gone two games without a win. This is the first time this has happened at this point of a term since 2006-07, however, when they won the title with 76 points - as many as FC Barcelona. Any talk of usurping Barca this time around and nabbing the title is out of the question, but Madrid must still aim to claim second place in the division. They will do that with a 3-0 win here tonight.
As the two teams prepare to make their way down the tunnel, it is worth mentioning that Madrid have failed to win on their two visits to Valencia this term, while Levante have won both home games against sides from the capital. Los Blancos have won all eight fixtures at the Estadio Ciutat de Valencia, though, and you would not expect them to slip-up against the division's basement boys.
With kickoff now just a few minutes away, here is a recap of the state of play heading into the match.

KICKOFF! We are officially underway in this final La Liga clash of the evening, with Madrid sporting their traditional white strip. A crunching tackle within the opening 20 seconds to potentially set the tone at the Estadio Ciutat de Valencia.
Casemiro makes a strong challenge to deny a Levante charge forward, showing already in these opening few minutes that it is not going to be all one-way traffic. Ronaldo is now penalised for a high boot, which is he rather unhappy about.
SAVE! It has been a bright start for the hosts, with Rossi coming close to making an early breakthrough. A cross came in from the left in a far too straightforward manner, but Rossi was thwarted by a fine Navas stop. The keeper got to the follow-up quickly to prevent a tap-in, too.
Madrid seeing far more of the ball now without really doing a great deal with it. The one real opening of the game fell to Levante's Rossi a few moments ago, but Navas deserved huge credit for getting down to stop the shot.
Les Granotes' turn to knock the ball around now, working it towards Rossi who can't quite force Navas into another big stop. The hosts certainly looking the brighter in these opening 10 minutes, with Madrid having to do more defending than they would have liked.
Danilo and Vasquez heavily involved down the Madrid right, but it's down the other flank where a cross eventually comes in from Nacho. It was a rather flat pass, though, meaning that target man Ronaldo had no real chance of getting to the ball first.
Lopez taking no risks in a central position inside the box when a cross comes in, simply heading it behind for a corner kick which ultimately comes to nothing. Ronaldo already cutting a frustrated figure up top.
A rather tame penalty appeal from Ronaldo, as he goes down under a minor nudge from Medjani inside the area. The Portuguese is feeding off scraps at the moment, though the visitors do appear to be growing into the game more and more.
Vasquez with another pretty tame cross into the box when finding himself in a promising position, much like Nacho a little earlier. That is where Madrid badly miss the likes of injury victim Gareth Bale, as hinted by Ronaldo earlier this week.
Not a great deal happening at the moment, in truth, with neither side really asking many questions of the opposition defence. The most exciting piece of play remains that early chance for Rossi, which Navas was equal to between the sticks.
SAVE! Much better from Vasquez on this occasion, as he gets to the byline before picking out Ronaldo at the front post. The Portuguese had the angle all against him, but he forced away a shot on goal which Marino was there to block behind.
Madrid having far too much joy down the right, with their latest attack ending with a corner. The referee blew his whistle for an infringement, but Casemiro still decided to drive the ball from range with the ball striking a Levante player. Cue handbags at the Estadio Ciutat de Valencia.
No way through for either side yet, but it is bottom-side Levante who have come closest to making a breakthrough thus far through Rossi's close-range shot. Navas was equal to the attempt a few minutes in to ensure that we remain goalless in Valencia.

A stunning pass to cut open the Levante midfield ends with James in acres of space down the left. The Colombian completely overhit his cross when under no pressure whatsoever, ensuring that another visiting attack breaks down at the final ball.
Orban defends brilliantly to prevent Vasquez slaloming his way through on goal. Levante not been able to put together any attacking moves of note over the past 15 minutes really, with Madrid now beginning to press high up both flanks. A good opportunity for Ronaldo to head his side ahead goes begging from a decent half-chance.
Levante's best spell in a while, as a couple of crosses into the box ends with the concession of a corner for Madrid. These deliveries from set-pieces provides the division's lowest scorers with their best chance of finding a breakthrough.
SAVE! Arguably Madrid's best chance of the match so far falls to Ronaldo around eight yards out, but he can't get the better of Marino with his volleyed attempt. The Levante keeper down very well there to keep out the shot.
Moments after coming close to making a breakthrough with a well-hit shot, Ronaldo this time makes no mistake from the spot as he tucks the ball past the outstretched arm of Marino. Vasquez won the spot kick when brought down by Orban, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot.
It had been a fairly balanced match up until that Ronaldo opener from the spot, so it will be interesting to see how this one pans out over the next eight minutes or so to half time. Levante cannot afford to ship a second, or else it really will be game over.
Young Madrid academy product Mayoral looked to have bagged a goal on his first start for the club, driving a shot through Simao's legs on its way through, but it hit the post before fortunately deflecting off Marino and into the back of the net. That will surely go down as an own goal.
A little over a minute after doubling their advantage, Madrid let their opponents right back into the game! Rossi slipped the ball through to Deyverson, who perfectly picked out the bottom corner out of Navas's reach. Game on all of a sudden!
YELLOW CARDS! A couple of bookings to bring you up to speed with - the first to Simao for diving in on Kroos and one for Vasquez after protesting Levante's goal.
So the referee wasting no time in bringing the first half to a close, then, and what a half it was! It had been fairly lively up until the opening goal, although neither team could truly find any sort of momentum in the opening half-hour or so.
The best chance up until that point had fallen the way of Rossi, who failed to beat Navas from close range just a few minutes in. Ronaldo also had an effort of his own kept out by Marino from a tight angle, but there was to be no denying the Portuguese on the 33-minute mark. Vasquez was sent tumbling by Orban in the box, forcing the referee to point to the spot.
Less than four minutes later it was 2-0 to the visitors, as full debutant Mayoral turned well on the edge of the box and fired the ball towards the bottom corner of the net. It came back off the post before fortunately going in off the back of Marino, meaning that a goal on his first start for Los Blancos will likely be chalked off. That was an own goal no matter how much he protests.
Just as the game looked to be over prior to the break, Levante responded just a minute later through Deyverson. Rossi slipped through his teammate, who calmly did the rest by picking out the bottom corner of the net. We have a game on our hands all of a sudden at the Estadio Ciutat de Valencia, and momentum appears to be with the lowly hosts.
Rubi will surely be happy enough with what he saw from his side in the first half, but what about opposite number Zinedine Zidane? Could a half-time alteration be on the cards?

LEVANTE SUBS: Ruben, Verza, Juanfran, Victor Casadesus, Cuero, Ruben Garcia, Verdu

REAL MADRID SUBS: Casilla, Kovacic, Jese, Isco, Odegaard, Llorente, Tejero

RESTART! We are back underway in Valencia, with this match still well poised ahead of the next 45 minutes. A penalty, an own goal and a couple of cards dished out in the first half - let's hope for more of the same!

It has been a stop-start feel to this second half so far, with plenty of challengers flying in. Levante are desperate to draw themselves level, but they understand that they will have to do a fair bit of defending first.
Casemiro lacks the bravery to go in for a 50-50 header, instead using his boot which the referee rightly deems as being high. Plenty of free kicks being given away in the middle of the park but no momentum whatsoever at the moment.
CLOSE! James curls a fine effort towards the left-hand side of the goal, which drops just inches wide of the intended target. Madrid just looking to wrestle control of the match now and bag what would surely be a decisive third.
SAVE! The visitors turning the screw now, as Nacho cuts inside and puts his foot through a long-range effort. Marino was simply happy to push it aside, ensuring that no Madrid player could get a touch to the ball.
Another opening for Madrid, this time after James swung in a corner which just sneaked past Mayoral at the near post. Levante really holding on now, with the third visiting goal seemingly right on the horizon.
Casemiro takes on an extremely ambitious strike which again comes to little. That came moments after Mayoral failed to get a decisive touch on another cross into the box, as the men in white continue to up the ante.
An hour played and Levante finally get the ball into the opposition box for pretty much the first time this half. A cross came in from the right and, after Pepe and Verane failed to deal with it, Deyverson almost got a telling touch a few yards out.
LEVANTE SUB! Some fresh legs introduced in attack in the shape of Casadesus, who comes on in place of Rossi. A good shift from the ex-Man United man, who set up one and came close to scoring another.
Danilo gets in a promising cross from the right, which Levante do brilliantly to defend at the back post. Plenty of Madrid pressure this half, but Ronaldo has barely featured. Zidane must surely be thinking about making a change or two?
OFF THE POST! The visitors' best chance of the half goes begging, as Ronaldo gets on the end of a fine lofted ball over the top, only for his side-footed attempt to come back off the post. So close to a decisive third!
LEVANTE SUB! Simao, on a booking remember, is replaced by Verza. We are at the stage now where Levante have got to throw all they have at their opponents.
Lucas Orban and Lucas Vazquez have had a good running battle this evening, but the latter won a penalty when being brought down by his opponent late in the first half. That was the first of three goals this match, all of which came before the interval.

SUBS! Ruben Garcia is withdrawn for the home side, with Victor Camarasa introduced for these final 18 minutes or so. Casemiro has just limped off, meanwhile, meaning a run-out for Kovacic.
Into the final quarter of the game now, and Levante starting to take more gambles in search of a leveller. Verza opted to take on a shot from range, which ended a good couple of yards above Navas's goal.
CLOSE! Ronaldo within a lick of paint of giving Madrid that third goal that they so crave. It's his eighth shot of the night, hitting the ball first time right on the edge of the box but failing to pick out the right side of the upright.
Levante have used all three of their alterations, then, with Rubi rolling the dice. Zidane still has a couple of changes, which will likely be used to break up play if required. The Frenchman would have been hoping for a far more comfortable night!
REAL MADRID SUB! Ruben Garcia has just been shown a yellow for a rash challenge, meaning that he will sit out his side's next game. James has made way for Isco, meanwhile, after another largely frustrating night for the Colombian.
SAVE! No question that Levante are now the side seeing more of the ball, which is in stark contrast to the opening quarter of this second half. It really will be disastrous should Madrid concede - and they very nearly did so moments ago. Garcia's drive was heading for the corner of the net if not for Navas's big right hand.
From the resulting corner the ball is flicked into the back-post area by Orban, but Garcia could not quite stretch to make a telling touch. Madrid now desperately holding on to their slender lead.
REAL MADRID SUB! Mayoral can be happy enough with his contribution, having played a huge part in what is looking likely to be the winning goal. Jese is on in his place with four minutes left to play.
Jese comes close to making an instant impact, but his shot is kept out by Marino. Just two minutes of normal times now remaining for Les Granotes to steal a valuable point on home soil.
SHOT! Ronaldo shows off his trickery for pretty much the first time tonight, sending Orban one way and another before getting a shot on target. It was a simple enough stop for Marino to make, though, and still this game remains wide open.
Les Granotes throw all they have at Madrid, but gaps open up at the back which allows Ronaldo to pull the ball back for Isco who opens up his body and seals the points. Game over at long last!
Madrid had to ride their luck at times, but full credit to Zidane's men for finally getting the job done late on. Isco's well-taken third added to two earlier goals in the first half, as Levante pushed their far more established opponents all the way in Valencia.
Well that concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage from this evening's big showdown in La Liga. Be sure to join us again on the weekend for more commentary from Spain's top flight. See you then!
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