MADRID, Spain, October 6 – Real Madrid salvaged their faltering La Liga title hopes with two goals in stoppage time to win 3-2 away at Levante on Saturday as Barcelona extended their 100 percent start to the campaign with a 4-1 win over Valladolid.
It was Barca’s eighth win in eight Liga clashes.
With Real trailing 2-1 entering stoppage time, Alvaro Morata slotted home from close range before Cristiano Ronaldo’s effort deflected in off the inside of the post with virtually the last kick of the game to hand Madrid victory.
Baba Diawara had fired the hosts into a deserved lead 12 minutes after the break, only for Sergio Ramos to level four minutes later.
Nabil El Zhar then thought he had handed Joaquin Caparros’ men all three points with a fine finish four minutes from time before the late drama.
“The victory was very important because it was a very difficult game,” said Real boss Carlo Ancelotti.
“It was even more difficult at the end, but we didn’t give up and we had the will to fight till the end.
“The game was complicated by us giving away two goals when we needed better concentration and more cover.
“It is true that we didn’t play fantastic football, but we deserved to win given the chances we had in the second-half.”
Real were again without world record signing Gareth Bale due to a thigh injury, but Ancelotti did make five changes to the side that had beaten FC Copenhagen 4-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
And the number of changes seemed to affect the visitors as they made a very slow start.
Baba was the main threat for Levante and the Senegalese was unfortunate when his rasping drive from the edge of the area flew just over on 34 minutes.
The hosts came close again through Baba before half-time when his piledriver forced Lopez into a stunning save a minute before the break.
Ronaldo then clipped the outside of the post as the game opened up after the break.
And with their next attack Levante caught Madrid short at the back on the counter-attack as Jordi Xumetra’s floated cross was swept home by Baba at the back post.
The lead only lasted four minutes as Ramos outmuscled Xumetra to bundle home Angel di Maria’s corner at the back post to restore parity.
Marcelo then somehow turned Di Maria’s precise cut-back over as Madrid piled on the pressure and Ancelotti threw on young strike duo Morata and Jese Rodriguez in a bid to find a winner.
But instead it was Levante who retook the lead on 86 minutes remaining when El Zhar withheld pressure from a number of Madrid defenders to turn and fire across Lopez into the far corner.
Madrid responded moments later with another equaliser when Jese teed-up Morata to slot low past the helpless Navas.
And the comeback was complete deep into added time when Ronaldo received Modric’s pass at the edge of the area and saw his left-footed strike deflect off Juanfran and into the net via the woodwork.
Real remain five points behind Barcelona at the top of the table after they too had to come from behind to beat Valladolid at the Camp Nou.
Barca’s weakness at set-pieces was exposed again early on as Javi Guerra headed Valladolid into a shock 10th minute lead.
Alexis Sanchez responded with a stunning strike just four minutes later to level.
Neymar was playing as the central forward for the hosts in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi and he fed Cristian Tello, who in turn cut the ball back for Xavi to make it 2-1 just after the break.
The Brazilian was involved again in the third goal as he released Sanchez to slot home his second of the evening 25 minutes from time.
And the Chilean returned the favour six minutes later to allow Neymar to register his third Barcelona goal.