A Jose Morales goal in the first half and a late Jorge de Frutos strike gave Levante a hard-fought 2-0 over Atletico Madrid at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano. This is the third time Atleti has dropped points in their last four La Liga games and their first defeat since their loss to Real Madrid back in December. Now, the result at Metropolitano opened the opportunity for Real Madrid to close the gap with Atleti and Casmeiro ensured that the Los Blancos earn full points.
1—Atletico Madrid (55 pts)
2—Real Madrid (52 pts)
Hala Madrid pic.twitter.com/Hh8mFtOfma
— Faisal Caesar (@faisalyorker1) February 21, 2021
With nine absences to deal with and two winter departures, Real Madrid have managed to stay in the fight for the La Liga title and the grit and determination of Zinedine Zidane and his boys have kept the hopes alive.
Karim Benzema and right-back Dani Carvajal among the latest additions to the team’s long injury list, Zidane slotted Mariano into his attacking line with Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio, while the returning Lucas Vazquez took Carvajal’s place at full-back.
Almost immediatelyThibaut Courtois had to be called on to make back-to-back saves when he managed to block efforts from Fabian Orellana and Saidy Janko, the latter being one of the best saves of the season from the big Belgian.
Casemiro gets the breakthrough for Madrid! ⚪
What an important goal that could prove to be 🔥 pic.twitter.com/8z7FPMP6by
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) February 20, 2021
At the other end, Mariano produced two great finishes for Los Blancos, but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside, thus negating the efforts.
Madrid’s best legal chance at a score in the first half came toward the end when a free-kick on the very edge of the area was served up by Toni Kroos for Casemiro, only to see the Brazilian miss badly with a header.
A sloppy pass from Ferland Mendy into his own box should have led to the first goal of the match for Valladolid early in the second half, as Mendy’s pass floated into the middle and fell perfectly for the charging Orellana to volley home, only for Courtois to make the reaction save.
The tension was mounting higher and Real Madrid were looking to break the deadlock.
Casemiro has now scored five goals for Real Madrid in LaLiga this season, equalling his highest ever return in a single league campaign (2017-18). pic.twitter.com/u2l19m2C8I
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) February 21, 2021
Casemiro had squandered a golden opportunity to score in the first half off a Toni Kroos free-kick, but he made good on the next one, steering a header into the net off another dead-ball delivery from the German – the Los Blancos took the all-important lead.
Hugo Duro then came on to deservedly make his Real Madrid debut – making an incredible season for Castilla in terms of first-team opportunities even better with many games to go. Arribas also came on alongside Isco and continued to impress fans with his technique and intelligence. Valladolid never really looked a threat, but Madrid managed the game well.
A victory was morale-boosting, but the overall performance lacked the spark and in the upcoming clash against Atalanta in the Champions, the Los Blancos would need to reinvigorate themselves because the Italians are a much better unit than Valladolid.