Gareth Bale scores first La Liga goal for two years as Real Madrid stutter

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Gareth Bale scored his first Liga goal since 2019 but took two late goals from his replacement, Vinicius, to earn Real Madrid a 3-3 draw at Levante.

That result allowed champions Atletico Madrid, who beat Elche 1-0 earlier on Sunday, to take top spot in La Liga.

Bale gave Real Madrid the lead after five minutes. Karim Benzema ran in on goal but when the ball was held up by water on the pitch, cut it back to Bale who side-footed the ball home.

It was the Welshman’s first goal in La Liga since his second goal, an 86th minute equaliser, in a 2-2 draw against Villarreal at the start of September in 2019, a match which he ended by collecting a red card.

Real dominated the first half but could not find a second and Levante levelled 28 seconds into the second period when the ball broke to unmarked Roger, who beat Thibaut Courtois with a low shot

Levante took the lead in the 57th minute when Jose Campana met a deep cross with a sweet volley into the top corner.

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti promptly yanked off Bale, Isco and Eden Hazard in a triple substitution.

One of the subs, Vinicius, repaid his coach in the 73rd minute, accelerating on to a pass from Casimeiro, shrugging off a defender and rolling a shot into the corner of the net.

Seven minutes later, David Alaba nodded a Levante free kick down into his own six yard box and Rober Pier thumped the ball home from close range.

With five minutes left, Vinicius again equalised. Receiving the ball wide of the post and near the goal-line, he still somehow found the net, lofting the ball round goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez and in off the far post.

Two minutes later, Fernandez was sent off for handling outside his area to stop a Real counter-attack. Because Levante had used all their substitutes, defender Ruben Vezo went in goal but Real could not find a winner.

“He has qualities, he’s very fast, he’s young, he’s a great striker,” said Ancelotti of the Brazilian, but he refused to say if Vinicius would start the next game, which could cost Bale his place.

“I don’t give so much importance to who starts the game or not. It’s not that important. Today, Vinicius changed the match with his freshness. What we lacked was in the defence, not in attack.”

AFP

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