Benzema hurt, Marcelo sent off as Madrid draws with Levante

Real Madrid stumbled to a second straight draw at its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after being held by Levante to 1-1 in the Spanish league.

They lost striker Karim Benzema to a muscle injury, as the centre-forward limped off the pitch midway through the first half. He later underwent hospital tests after the game, and the club released a statement saying that Benzema has suffered a hamstring injury, which would see him sidelined for four to six weeks out.

Coach Zinedine Zidane will also be without Marcelo for the next league match at Real Sociedad after the defender got a direct red card for kicking Jefferson Lerma in the head after they tumbled to the turf in the 89th minute.

With Cristiano Ronaldo serving the third of a four-match suspension — for pushing a referee — Zidane gave starts to newcomer Theo Hernandez and midfielder Marcos Llorente.

Gareth Bale, who replaced Benzema, missed a number of straightforward chances in a disappointing display in the No. 9 role. He sent three headers wide and failed to beat Fernandez one-on-one.

Newly promoted Levante caught Madrid with its guard down in the 12th minute on a routine throw-in executed by Ivan Lopez, which concluded in a goal by another teammate also named Ivan Lopez.

One Lopez directed the throw-in to the other Lopez, who slipped behind Dani Carvajal near the goal, controlled the ball and poked it past goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

Lucas Vazquez got the equalizer 10 minutes later, when he tapped in the rebound after Levante goalkeeper Raul Fernandez saved Sergio Ramos' header. That goal extended Madrid's run to 71 consecutive games scoring at least once.

Toni Kroos almost grabbed the win for 10-man Madrid when he hit the post in stoppage time.

Levante are yet to lose in three matches since its return to the first division after a one-year absence.

On the other hand, Madrid, the defending Liga champion, has only one victory in the first three rounds. They started the season by beating Manchester United in the European Super Cup and Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.


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