Cristiano Ronaldo scored a 94th-minute winner for the second successive away game as Real Madrid got out of jail against Levante as they won 3-2.┬áAfter a goalless first half, Papa Baba Diawara gave Levante a lead which was swiftly cancelled out by Sergio Ramos.
Levante struck in the 86th minute through Nabil El Zhar only for Madrid substitute Alvaro Morata to again restore parity in the 90th minute before a deflected strike from Ronaldo — whose last-gasp penalty sank Elche last week — sealed another dramatic win.
Madrid came into the match looking to get their Primera Division campaign back on track following last weekend’s derby defeat to Atletico but they might have been reduced to 10 men as early as the second minute when full-back Fabio Coentrao somehow escaped without a card for a high, studs-first challenge on Ruben Garcia.
Diawara and team-mate Papakouli Diop both shot over from long range in the early exchanges.
Madrid, who in 2011 lost twice away to Levante in league and cup, responded and Ramos headed Angel Di Maria’s corner goalwards but Keylor Navas saved.
Hector Rodas blocked Karim Benzema’s shot and Ronaldo’s free-kick was deflected by the wall before being pushed away by Navas, who then again denied Ramos from a corner.
The visitors should have had a penalty in the 36th minute when Ronaldo’s header was blocked at point-blank range by the raised arms of Hector.
Luka Modric was crowded out as he tried to wriggle through the defence and then, when the ball was worked back into the box, he stabbed a shot wide when again under pressure.
David Navarro blocked Ronaldo’s shot after a neat cut-back from Alvaro Arbeloa but the best effort before the interval came from Diawara, whose 25-yard blast forced an excellent diving save from Diego Lopez.
Coentrao again went unpunished after a reckless lunge early in the second half at Pedro Lopez, but Arbeloa was booked for fouling Juanfran.
Diop closed down Isco in a dangerous position and Ronaldo’s low left-foot shot glanced off the outside of the post as Madrid sought the opener.
It was Levante who went ahead though as Diawara broke the deadlock in the 57th minute. He may have been marginally offside but there was no doubting the quality of either Jordi Xumetra’s delicious crossfield ball or Diawara’s half-volleyed finish.
Coentrao was almost immediately replaced by Marcelo and Madrid were on terms just four minutes after going behind when Di Maria swung a corner to the far post and captain Ramos, arguably Real’s most dangerous attacking threat on the night, finished with a thumping close-range volley.
Ronaldo’s curler was easy for Navas and another effort was blocked before another goalbound effort by Ramos was unwittingly stopped by Benzema, who was offside to boot.
Di Maria whistled a shot into the side netting and saw another saved before Levante sent on El Zhar for Xumetra and Morata replaced Isco for Madrid.
Marcelo blazed a shot wastefully over after Benzema’s effort was blocked and Ramos headed a Di Maria cross well wide.
And it was Levante who struck with five minutes remaining when Juanfran crossed and El Zhar’s header was parried by Diego Lopez. The ball rebounded on to the forward who turned, seemed to have wasted the chance when he declined to lay the ball off to Andreas Ivanschitz, but kept going and found the bottom corner.
But again the lead lasted only four minutes as Jese worked the ball to the edge of the box and the unlikely figure of defender Raphael Varane set up Morata to finish from 10 yards.
Marcelo’s piledriver deep in stoppage time was beaten away by Navas but Carlo Ancelotti’s side were not to be denied as Ronaldo’s drive took a deflection off Juanfran and struck the far post on its way in.