Thankfully, Carlo Ancelotti decided to substitute Eden Hazard, who was yet again a big flop and brought on Vinicius Junior. Otherwise, at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, it would have been a disaster for the Los Blancos. It was the Vinicius Junior which Real Madrid and Brazil were waiting to see and enjoy.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti handed out a start to Isco, while the front three were led by Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, and Gareth Bale.

The first half was as straightforward as possible for Los Blancos, punctuated by a Gareth Bale strike.

Ancelotti could not have asked for a better start from his men, with David Alaba looping a ball upfield to Benzema, who charged in on goal before cutting a pass back to Bale and the Welshman fired into the net to make it 0-1.

Real Madrid were very comfortable for the rest of the half with Isco at the heart of creativity and Alaba a threat every time he had the ball.

Nevertheless, they failed to add on to their lead, with the best chance being a swerving free-kick from Bale.

At the other end, there was little from Levante, making for a relatively simple first 45 minutes for Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and the back four.

As easy as the first half was for Real Madrid, the second half started in the most complicated fashion possible for the visitors and Roger quickly had the home side level 1-1 just seconds after the re-start when he beat Lucas Vazquez and squeezed a shot past Courtois.

Levante remained on the front foot and a sweetly-hit right-footed volley from an unmarked Jose Campana off an inch-perfect cross from De Frutos gave Levante a 2-1 lead before the hour mark.

The backline was melting under pressure while the people upfront lost the team.

The visibly annoyed Ancelotti went right to his bench and made a trio of changes, with Marco Asensio, Vinicius, and Rodrygo on for Isco, Hazard, and Bale, respectively.

Minutes later it was a long-awaited return for right-back Dani Carvajal, who replaced Lucas Vazquez.

Real Madrid were desperate for a response, and one of the new introductions would duly deliver, as Vinicius equalized 2-2. However, it all started with an exquisite pass from Casemiro, who threaded a ball into space for his younger Brazilian countryman to run onto and finish.

But back came Levante and a free-kick swung deep into the area came off the head of Alaba and fell perfectly for Rober Pier, who had the easiest of finishes to make it 3-2 Levante.

Ancelotti went back to his bench for more offense, with Luka Jovic summoned for Fede Valverde, but it was Levante who nearly had the next goal with a Malsa pass into Cantero, who rounded Courtois, but fired a shot off the post.

Every foray forward from either side felt like it would end with a goal, and right after Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez denied Jovic from point-blank range and the follow-up from Carvajal was blocked, Vinicius pulled out his magic wand and scored a gem by using the outside of his boot to float in a shot that banked off the post and into the net to make it 3-3.

Vinicius was back at it and a Real Madrid counter-attack with the Brazilian on the break ended when Aitor Fernandez was red-carded for a handball well outside his area.

Since Levante had already used all of their substitutes, defender Ruben Vezo was forced to assume the goalkeeper gloves with his side down to 10 men for the final minutes. In the end, Levante would see out the final minutes to secure the point in what was a very entertaining draw between the two sides.

“The match was crazy,” Ancelotti said.

“After controlling the first half well, we gave away two points after a good opening 45 minutes.”

“It’s hard to explain, you have to be focused at all times and it is a hard one to take. You have to be more focused.”

Isco was sensational in the first 45 minutes, as he controlled the Real Madrid play from deep before he was taken off when Levante took the lead.

“Isco was perhaps one of the best performers,” said Ancelotti.

“We brought on fresher players. [Isco’s substitution] was due to freshness, as in the case of Gareth [Bale]. But the defensive commitment must be better.”

The star of the show was Vinicius, who came on from the bench and bagged a brace which ultimately gave Real Madrid a point.

“Vinicius Junior has a lot of quality,” said Ancelotti.

He must score, but I don’t know if we will be a great goal-scorer. With that quality, he must score many goals.


“He will be important for us. Sometimes it matters more to finish matches than start them. I don’t believe it is that matters that much if he starts or not.”

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