Real Madrid held by Levante at 10; Atlético wins again | national
MADRID (AP) – After defending champions Atlético Madrid beat Elche to add to their victorious debut in the Spanish league, Real Madrid were unable to defeat a Levante side who were forced to finish the game with a defender as a goalkeeper.
Atlético won 1-0 at home when supporters returned to Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday, becoming the only team with two wins to start the championship. Then Madrid couldn’t handle more than a 3-3 draw even though Levante played almost 10 minutes without a real goalkeeper.
Madrid failed to shoot on target after Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernández was sent off in the 87th minute for using his hands outside the box to stop a breakaway. Defender Rúben Vezo took over as goalkeeper as the hosts had already made all five substitutions, but he did not have to make any saves for the rest of regulation time and time out.
Madrid opened the scoring in the first half with Gareth Bale, but the visitors had to come back from behind twice after half-time to save the draw with a pair of goals from Vinícius Júnior.
“It’s hard to explain what happened,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. “We gave up two points. We were too soft at the start of the second half. We have to improve defensively.
Levante were the last team to defeat Madrid in the league. Madrid have won just two of their last five league games against Levante.
Bale scored his first goal of the season in the fifth minute with a low shot from inside the box after a set-up from Karim Benzema, who ran from close to midfield before passing the ball to the Wales forward, who was on loan with Tottenham last season.
Bale had not scored for Madrid since January 2020. He ended this season with just three goals, his lowest ever for the Spanish club.
Roger Martí equalized about 30 seconds after the start of the second half, and José Campaña gave the hosts the advantage with a skylight shot in the 57th.
Madrid equalized the game in a breakaway in the 73rd minute, with Vinícius Júnior finding the net after a nice pass from Casemiro from Madrid’s own ground. But six minutes later, Rober Pier restored the lead to Levante from close range with a free kick.
Vinícius Júnior once again shot Madrid with a neat angle shot that hit the far post before entering.
Madrid have been exhausted by injuries to some key players such as Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Marcelo.
Atlético Madrid won with Ángel Correa playing a leading role again in Luis Suárez’s absence.
Correa scored a first-half game-winning goal for his third in two matches while starting in place of Suárez, who started again on the bench.
A limited crowd of nearly 25,000 were in attendance for Spain’s premier league game with fans at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium since March of last year before the coronavirus pandemic. Atlético handed over last season’s league trophy to supporters ahead of the game.
“We need the fans,” said Atlético coach Diego Simeone. “It had been a year and a half without them. It was amazing to be able to show them last season’s trophy. It’s great to be able to play with them again in our stadium.
Correa added to his goal streak in the 39th after a long assist from Rodrigo de Paul, the Argentine midfielder added to the squad in the offseason. Elche goalkeeper Kiko Casilla beat Correa on the ball but sniffed his clearance attempt, leaving Argentina ahead with an easy shot from inside the box.
Correa had scored both Atlético goals in the team’s 2-1 win over Celta Vigo in the opener.
Suárez, Atlético’s top scorer after joining Barcelona last season, entered the game in the 63rd, replacing Thomas Lemar.
Elche opened with a 0-0 home draw against Athletic Bilbao.
Sevilla can also win twice in a row when they visit Getafe on Monday. Barcelona were held by Athletic Bilbao 1-1 on Saturday.
Real Sociedad rebounded from an opening loss to Barcelona, beating promoted Rayo Vallecano 1-0 thanks to a 68th-minute penalty from Mikel Oyarzabal.
Rayo Vallecano lost 3-0 to Sevilla in their opener.
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