Cristiano Ronaldo scored a dramatic injury-time winner as Real Madrid twice came from behind to beat Levante 3-2 at the Ciutat de Valencia on Saturday. After Sergio Ramos had equalized Baba Diawara’s opening goal just past the hour mark, it looked like being a second-straight defeat for Carlo Ancelotti’s men when Nabil El Zhar struck with just four minutes left on the clock. But in the 90th minute Alvaro Morata hit an equalizer before, with the help of a deflection, Ronaldo incredibly secured Madrid all three points with almost the last kick of the game.
Having lost to Atletico Madrid last week to fall five points behind both their city rivals and Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division table, it was a victory that will come as a considerable relief to Ancelotti. Especially as for so long it didn’t look like arriving.
Madrid had plenty of possession in the opening half but created very little going forward against a Levante side that has conceded just four goals in six matches since an opening day 7-0 mauling at the hands of Barcelona.
The closest to a goal came near the end of the half when Luka Modric had an initial effort blocked before striking the follow up wildly wide of the target. At the other end, Diawara forced Diego Lopez into a flying save with a powerful effort from the edge of the box.
Levante were becoming increasingly threatening. Lopez was forced into action again to turn over Pape Diop’s sweetly struck effort, but could do nothing to stop Levante going in front in the 12th minute of the second half.
Xumetra created the goal with a pinpoint pass over the top of Madrid’s defense to find Diawara in the clear and the striker met the ball with a superbly controlled half-volley into the net. Yet, it would be a lead that the hosts would hold for just four minutes.
Levante showed hesitation in dealing with Angel di Maria’s corner from the right and Ramos emerged unchecked around the back of a defender at the far post to volley into the net from close range.
Having got the equalizer, Madrid pushed in search of a potentially precious winner. Twice they came close to going in front, first after Marcelo skied a glorious chance over the bar from Ronaldo’s cross and then when Ramos headed wide.
Those misses looked likely to prove costly when Levante went back in front in the closing minutes. El Zhar got ahead of Diego Lopez to meet a cross and managed to retrieve the ball under pressure, yet with his back to goal and surrounded by Madrid players the chance looked to have gone as he elected not to knock it back for a teammate. Instead, the former Liverpool man was able to make space for a turn and strike a fine effort into the corner.
Madrid, though, quickly halted the home crowd’s celebratory mood. Having been setup by first Jese and then Raphael Varane with a pass, the young striker showed admirable composure to take a touch before firing into the net. And the visitors weren’t done yet. In the fourth minute of injury time, Modric slipped a short pass just inside the corner of the box to Ronaldo, who was immediately set on putting a shot in on goal and aided by a slight deflection from Juanfran the ball found the corner of the net to secure all three points.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.