Eder Militao was sent off the field Saturday morning in Real Madrid’s 2-1 defeat to Levant, another setback for La Liga’s title hopes.

Militao was shown a red card after only nine minutes for bringing down striker Sergio Leon as he tried to score a goal. Shortly after, Marco Asensio took advantage of a Madrid counterattack and slipped the ball to Aitor Fernandes goalkeeper Toni Kroos.

Levante equalized after half an hour when Jose Luis Morales volleyed the ball past Thibaut Courtois. After the break, the visitors missed a chance to keep the game alive when Courtois brilliantly saved on a Roger Marty penalty kick.

Marty made up for that mistake in the 78th minute by finishing off a worked corner, and so Madrid lost its first La Liga match since November.

2 Connected

Positive

Madrid responded well to their two defeats in the cup with a 4-1 win over Alaves last weekend and seemed destined for another victory when Asensio opened the scoring. It was a special goal, especially in the circumstances that followed a red card, thanks to Kroos’ exceptional vision and technique.

But that advantage didn’t last long, and in fact Courtois was the only one who kept the team in the game much longer than his performance deserved. The goalkeeper’s performance was one of the few positives of a disappointing day.

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Negative

Madrid’s makeshift defense has been repeatedly tested by a dangerous Levante squad, which has suffered just one defeat in 11 games in all competitions and has two of the ten top scorers in La Liga with Morales and Marti.

Neither the unfortunate Eder Militao nor the ineffective Alvaro Odriozola ever seemed like serious candidates for a permanent place in the starting lineup. Militao left early, while Odriozola was a handicap the entire time.

As a result, Madrid are seven points behind leaders Atletico, who have played two games less and will really have to put in a top performance the rest of the season to catch up with their rivals.

Manager rated from 10

5 — Zinédine Zidane’s absence from COVID-19 meant assistant David Bettoni had only 16 first-team players to choose from, with Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho in particular having problems in defense. That meant playing against Odriozola – at most on the right wing – and Militao, while the rest of the squad was chosen. With a 1-1 score at the start of the match, Vinicius Jr. called on Eden Hazard and he immediately missed a penalty. There was no late rally and no attacking surge from the Madrilenians as the match drew to a close and the bench was empty.

Player rankings (1-10; 10 = best. Players used after 70 minutes do not receive rankings).

Eight-year-old goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois — saved a penalty kick in the second half after Roger Marty had made a very clever save in the first period. He couldn’t get near the sweet Morales, who tied the score.

Soccer player Alvaro Odriozola, 5 years old … Only his second league start this season. He left Morales alone in the EQ room, although he is not the only culprit. An alarming and steady decline, from a prominent prospect three years ago to a virtual spectator today.

DF Raphael Varane, 6 — Defensive leader in the absence of Ramos, and even more so after Militao was sent off. He sought cover, returning to a position that some believe should have been a yellow card.

DF Eder Militao, 3 — After an encouraging performance against Alaves with a very early bath here. His red card for malicious intent was the quickest in Real Madrid history for an outfield player in La Liga.

DF Ferland Mendy, 6 — Was lucky not to be in action for Madrid’s opener against Gonzalo-Melero. He failed to give the ball away midway through the first half, putting his team in trouble.

MF Casemiro, 6 — Sent to the center to support Varane after Militao sent him back, a role he can play perfectly. However, he is partly responsible for Morales’ goal.

MF Toni Kroos, 7 — Asensio’s brilliant pass was one of the striker’s best passes of the season. That makes three passes in the last two games for the German.

Wrong: It wasn’t specified.Eder Militao who was sent off within 10 minutes, but the latest poor performance from the expensive return center. David S. Bustamante/Involved/Getty Images

MF Luka Modric, 6 — An incredible pass in the second half to Asensio from outside the box. Otherwise a little quieter than usual.

FW Eden Hazard, 6… Started four of her last five games. There seems to be some progress lately, even though there were a few misses before that. He arrived before an hour had been played.

Seven-year-old FW Marco Asensio scored a goal and showed great composure as he finished his running action after covering half the field. He had a chance to score a second goal when he pushed a long ball over the line with an excellent first touch.

FW Karim Benzema, 6… Surprisingly calm after his double against Alaves last weekend. His change in drag and his desperate attempt to score were a surprise.

Replaces

FW Vinicius Junior, 5 — Replaces Hazard and his first action is a penalty after a foul on Carlos Clerc on the edge of the box.

FW Mariano Diaz, N/R — Replaced by Benzema at 2-1 and had no impact. The only center striker in the team at the time of Luka Jovic’s departure.

MF Sergio Arribas, N/R — Played the last ten minutes and could not help the team get back into the game.

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