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Game review
Monday 23. August 2021 - 09:40

Vinicius Junior rescues point for Carlo Ancelotti's side after equalising twice following Gareth Bale's opener... with hosts eve

Maybe Real Madrid should shelve the Kylian Mbappe obsession for a while, buy a defender and let Vinicius do their goalscoring.

After a week of speculation over whether they might be able to force Paris Saint-Germain to let Mbappe go one year short of the end of his contract, Madrid shared the points in a six-goal thriller with Levante.

At the back they were shocking with the defence missing departed centre backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. Luckily for Carlo Ancelotti at the other end he had super-sub Vinicius to salvage a point with two brilliant second half goals.

He now has three in two games this season and with Gareth Bale scoring after just five minutes Real Madrid were worth their point but they must do something about the defensive errors that so nearly cost them.

Only five minutes had passed when Bale put them ahead. David Alaba's lofted pass down the left sent Benzema clear. He sprinted diagonally into the area but with the goal in his sights his unselfishly checked back and spotted Bale who had cleverly held his run to find space. Bale directed a low first time shot past Aitor Fernandez to score.

He went close again on 20 minutes sending a shot from a Fede Valverde cross just wide. And he also dipped a free-kick up and over the wall and just past the post from distance. Linking with Benzema ahead of a busy Isco, called into midfield in the absence of both Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, Real Madrid dominated the opening half.

The influence Alaba was having on their play was also notable. His starting position was left back from where he pinged the ball down the line for the opener but he was everywhere, popping up on the right to whip in dangerous corners and frequently pushing into midfield to initiate Madrid's passing.

Levante waited until the start of the second half to have their first shot but it went in. A mix up at the back opened the door for them with just 18 seconds up.

Militao stepped out and never got the ball, Lucas stayed and Roger Marti stepped into the space to fire a shot under Thibaut Courtois who got something on the ball but could not stop it squirming under him. Madrid were back out on the pitch in spirit only, suddenly Levante were physically on top.

On 56 minutes Levante had turned the game on its head. From a throw they passed their way down the right and former Real Madrid B-team winger Jorge de Frutos crossed to the back post where Lucas Vazquez had been left marking two players. He went to Jose Luis Morales and left Jose Campaña free. The former Crystal Palace midfield connected with a spectacular side-foot volley into the top corner.

Carlo Ancelotti took immediate action. Eden Hazard had been largely anonymous and was taken off. Bale and Isco were also replaced with Marco Asensio, Vinicius and Rodrygo coming on. Dani Carvajal also came on for struggling Lucas.

It was Carvajal who started the move that led to Madrid's equaliser. He was boxed in by his own byline but he managed to find Casemiro in space and the Br azilian midfielder sent Vinicius sprinting clear.

The 21-year-old has a reputation for not being able to finish. He made a nonsense of that tearing away from the pursuing Levante defenders and sending the ball past Fernandez.

But Madrid were not done with the defensive errors. Having conceded immediately after the break they did likewise after the second half drinks break when substitute Enis Bardhi whipped in a free-kick which hit Alaba on the head and dropped to Rober Pier who put Levante back ahead.

Substitute Alejandro Canterano then raced clear and hit the post but so nearly 4-2 down Madrid went down the other end and made it 3-3. Benzema rolled the ball out to Vinicius wide left and he cut inside and with a delicate flick of his right foot scored off the far post.

Vinicius could then have completed his hat-trick with what would have been the winner but when he rounded Fernandez who charged 10m out of his area the keeper handled the ball to stop the move.

He was red carded and Ruben Vezo when in goal but with only two minutes left there was no time for Madrid to make the man advantage count.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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