Giampaolo Pazzini enjoyed a dream debut for Levante as his late equaliser held Zinedine Zidane’s misfiring Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw on Saturday.
Madrid was given a rude awakening by Levante in the first half as Sergio Ramos went from hero to villain before Pazzini scored with only a minute of normal time left to earn the Valencians a point after Isco had seemingly netted the winner.
Zidane named his strongest XI for the trip to Levante as Madrid lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with the BBC of Gareth Bale, Karim, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo all in position up top.
Levante, for their part, signed three attackers in ex-Inter, Milan and Italy man Pazzini, Armando Sadiku and Ruben Rochina on the final day of the January transfer window.
However, only the former was included, albeit as a substitute, as the defensive set-up of the Valencians’ team suggested they were looking to hold Los Blancos to another 1-1 draw.
Los Blancos came out flying and took an early lead through Ramos, who marked the debut for his moustache with a powerful header from a corner.
However, they failed to build on that dominance and Les Granotes pulled one back when Emmanuel Boateng perfectly guided home the rebound to Jose Luis Morales’ saved shot after the forward had turned Ramos inside out.
Madrid continued to have plenty of the ball, but with only Luka Modric looking like making something happen and BBC not wearing their shooting boots, Levante kept their heads above the parapet.
It forced Zidane into the drastic measures of bringing off Bale and Ronaldo, and although Isco’s strike from a Benzema cutback appeared to vindicate the Frenchman, the hosts had a trick of their own up their sleeves.
That came in the form of Pazzini’s introduction as barely 10 minutes after the former Inter, Milan and Italy striker was thrown on, he sprung Los Merengues’ offside trip and slid a finish past ex-Granotes goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Levante 2-2 Real MadridBoateng 42, Pazzini 89 (L) Ramos 11, Isco 81 (RM)Levante: Oier; Coke, Postigo, Rober, Luna; Doukoure, Lukic, Lerma (Roger 68); Morales, Boateng (Jason 60), Ivi (Pazzini 77)
Real Madrid: Keylor; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos (Vazquez 90); Bale (Isco 66), Benzema, Ronaldo (Asensio 82)
Referee: Melero Lopez