Real Punish Levante To Win Ground
Benzema’s early goal and an inspired Carvalho brought Real Madrid’s 19th victory of the season last night at the Santiago Bernabeu. Jose Mourinho’s side beat Levante 2-0 to go two points from leaders Barcelona.
The French striker made it 1-0 in the seventh minute after Angel Di Maria’s tremendous individual action finished with a slow past keeper Munua which found Benzema steering it home from close range. Real Madrid dominated the entire game as Levante could barely defend. Ronaldo finished scoreless but had plenty of chances to score, especially in the second half. He remains though first in the Spanish league top-scorers’ table with 24 goals (the same as Barca’s Messi).
Real Madrid had their first chance just two minutes later. Ronaldo found Ramos around the box, but the right defender could only strike it one-yard wide. Ronaldo got his first opportunity in the 14th minute. The Portuguese star received the ball about 30 yards out, but his distance thunder went wide of the right post. Angel Di Maria found the same Ronaldo inside the box with a high cross, but Portuguese’s header couldn’t meet the net.
The Portuguese missed lot of chances and his last night performance must have been one of his worst of the season. Ronaldo had ten occasions or so but couldn’t beat Munua, not even once. The 20th minute saw him lobbing Levante’s keeper but the ball went wide for the third time. Di Maria was also very close just three minutes later, but Argentine’s strike went off the post.
Kaka, who was among the first XI, looked for a 20-yarder, his shot meeting Munua’s body. Left defender Marcelo, who brought Real’s last week victory, tried his luck with a shot from edge of the box which finally met the stands. Real’s second goal came just four minutes before the break. The hosts won a set-piece on the right which Ronaldo took it perfectly. The ball met the defender unmarked striking it past Munua from close range. 2-0 and the game was almost over.
Hadn’t Munua been in great form, Levante could have conceded lot of goals. Not even Khedira’s strike from the right could beat Levante’s man of the night. Ronaldo missed another header in the 64th minute while Benzema followed him with a volley from a left corner. Primera’s top scorer had another miss in the 71st minute, Ronaldo’s strike going wide. He got another two but without any result.
The Special One replaced attack triangle Benzema, Kaka and Di Maria with Mesut Ozil, F. Gago and newly arrived Adebayor, but Madrid remained scoreless in the second part. Ozil had the last word on Santiago. The German midfielder crossed the box but his finish met Munua’s legs. The scoreboard remained unchanged as Real remain second with 60 points in 24 games. FC Barcelona are two points adrift and have one game in hand.
Mourinho looked very pleased with this result. “I liked that my team played a serious match. These games ahead of Champions League matches can be complicated because players may focus more on the European competition. The team played well and was very focused. They were organized in defense, but we scored early and had things under control. Winning and resting players is what mattered,” he said.
He would praise Sergio Ramos and Benzema for their great performances. Real Madrid will next play Olympique Lyon on UEFA Champions League, on Tuesday. Their next league game will be against Deportivo la Coruna next Saturday. Levante UD lie 17th in the standings, on the verge of the relegation zone, with 24 points in 24 games. Luis Garcia Plaza will meet Osasuna next weekend.
Real Madrid – Adan; Marcelo, Carvalho, Albiol, Ramos; Diarra, Khedira; Di Maria, Kaka, Ronaldo; Benzema. Reserves: Arbeola, F. Gago, E. Garay, J. Dudek, X. Alonso, E. Adebayor, M. Ozil.
Levante UD – Munua; del Horno, Ballesteros, Nano, Cerra; Xabi Torres; Iborra, Juanfran, Valdo, Xisco; Caicedo. Reserves: J. Montero, Juanlu, H. Rodas, Lois, C. Stuani, M. Reina, Xisco Nadal.
La Liga results:
Getafe CF 0 – 1 Racing Santander
Villarreal CF 1 – 1 Malaga CF
Osasuna 4 – 0 RCD Espanyol
UD Almeria 1 – 1 Deportivo la Coruna
FC Sevilla – Hercules CF
FC Barcelona – Athletic Bilbao11