Benzema hurt, Marcelo sent off as Madrid draws with Levante
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid stumbled to a second straight draw at its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after being held by Levante to 1-1 in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Madrid lost striker Karim Benzema to a muscle injury in his right leg four days before its Champions League title defense starts against Cypriot team Apoel.
Coach Zinedine Zidane will be without Marcelo for the next league match at Real Sociedad after the defender got a direct red card for kicking Jefferson Lerma in the head after they tumbled to the turf in the 89th.
With Cristiano Ronaldo serving the third of a four-match suspension — for pushing a referee — Zidane gave starts to newcomer Theo Hernandez and midfielder Marcos Llorente.
Newly promoted Levante caught Madrid with its guard down in the 12th minute on a routine throw-in executed by Ivan Lopez, which concluded in a goal by another teammate also named Ivan Lopez.
One Lopez directed the throw-in to the other Lopez, who slipped behind Dani Carvajal near the goal, controlled the ball and poked it past goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
“We can’t be happy, above all with our first half,” Zidane said. “I am annoyed by the goal that they scored. We have to go out stronger and score first. We are scoring few goals given the number of chances we create.”
Gareth Bale replaced Benzema in the 26th when Madrid’s striker grabbed his right leg and asked to be substituted. Zidane said the injury was a muscle pull, adding that he hoped Benzema wouldn’t be out long.
Lucas Vazquez got the equalizer 10 minutes later, when he tapped in the rebound after Levante goalkeeper Raul Fernandez saved Sergio Ramos’ header. That goal extended Madrid’s run to 71 consecutive games scoring at least once.
Bale was criticized by the home crowd after its 2-2 draw with Valencia last round and the Wales winger squandered four opportunities to put the hosts ahead in this game. Bale sent three headers wide and failed to beat Fernandez one-on-one.
Toni Kroos almost grabbed the win for 10-man Madrid when he hit the post in stoppage time.
Levante has yet to lose in three matches since its return to the first division after a one-year absence.
“You have to suffer to get a positive result at the Santiago Bernabeu,” said Levante’s goal-scoring Lopez. “The point tastes like glory.”
Madrid, the defending Liga champion, has only one victory in the first three rounds. It started the season by beating Manchester United in the European Super Cup and Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.