Liga - Levante stun Real Madrid
Levante clinched an historic 1-0 victory over 10-man Real Madrid to stun the Liga giants in their hot-headed clash at the Ciudad de Valencia.
The hosts set out to rile their opponents with Juanfran adopting the role of chief antagonist, but it was Sami Khedira who was shown two of eight first-half yellow cards and dismissed before the break.
Jose Mourinho's side were left to bemoan two vociferous and legitimate penalty appeals turned down by the referee, but it was Levante who struck the killer blow as Arouna Kone scored following a counter attack in the 68th minute.
Real Madrid's in-form star Cristiano Ronaldo was confined to the substitutes' bench due to the ankle injury he picked up during the midweek Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb. Khedira returned to assume a midfield berth, while Kaka made his first Liga start of the season.
Two minutes later, Angel Di Maria hurtled down the right and whipped over a pinpoint delivery to the near post, but Kaka could only side-foot his shot straight at Munua under pressure from Javi Venta.
Real were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty on the half hour mark as Fabio Coentrao surged into the Levante box, only for Valdo to effectively obstruct the midfielder with a wild lunge, for which he went unpunished.
There were some disgraceful instances of play-acting and cynical fouls throughout the match, and there were none more petulant than Juanlu's exchange of fouls with Di Maria, and the melee which subsequently ensued.
Seven Levante players, inevitably led by Juanfran, surrounded Di Maria and prompted a big altercation, with the referee dishing out six yellow cards as a result, including the red card to Khedira, who pushed Sergio Ballesteros in the chest.
Mourinho was forced to take action at half-time to lift his infuriated and disgruntled players, with Cristiano Ronaldo introduced in an attempt to inject some inspiration into proceedings.
A string of rather shameful instances of play-acting from Levante left the visitors seething and provoked some furious responses from the Real Madrid dugout, but the referee was unmoved.
Levante could easily have broken the deadlock themselves in the 66th minute as Real committed bodies forward, and Juanlu squandered a glorious opening as he went for goal and was denied by Casillas in a two-on-one situation with Pepe the solitary man back.
It may have been greatly against the run of play, but Levante opened the scoring two minutes later on the counter-attack as Marcelo lost out to Venta with the ball squared the ball to Kone who blasted an emphatic finish into the roof of the net.
The visitors were again left feeling aggrieved and indignant as Vicente de la Fuente handled with his arms above his head in the box after Di Maria whipped over a devilish cross from the right, but the officials missed the interception.
Gonzalo Higuain and Mesut Ozil were both introduced as Mourinho desperately sought a breakthrough, but when Ronaldo finally charged through on goal he was cynically scythed down by Ruben Suarez, with just the yellow card brandished.
It was a desperately frustrating evening for Mourinho's Real Madrid, who suffered what could prove to be a crucial setback, while for Levante it was an historic victory and an evening which will be remembered for a long time to come.