Real Madrid suffer fourth defeat in last five games

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MADRID: Julen Lopetegui’s future as Real Madrid coach looks increasingly bleak after Levante claimed their first victory at the Bernabéu since 2007, condemning the European champions to a fourth defeat in their last five games, reported The Guardian.

Lopetegui has only presided over 12 matches since a messy end to his reign as Spain coach on the eve of the World Cup in June but this performance will do little to quell the suggestion he has lost the trust of his dressing room, the supporters and now president Florentino Pérez.

As well as the nature of the results, Lopetegui now has the ignominy of being in charge for Madrid’s worst ever goalscoring drought as Marcelo’s consolation ended 481 barren minutes. The previous record of 464 minutes having been set back in April, 1985.

In a shambolic opening 45 minutes, Madrid found themselves 1-0 down after just seven minutes as Raphaël Varane was curiously clumsy in trying to defend Sergio Postigo’s long ball forward and José Luis Morales nipped around the French defender to clip a finish past Thibaut Courtois.

It got worse for Los Blancos and Varane five minutes later as the centre-back was penalised for handball just inside the penalty area following a VAR review after Roger Martí flicked the ball passed him. The Levante forward then converted the spot-kick.

VAR then denied Madrid an equaliser as Marco Asensio was just a fraction offside as he headed in from close range. But technology also came to the hosts’ aid when a brilliant Levante counter-attack, just before half-time, ended with Rubén Rochina finishing past Courtois only for Toño to be ruled offside in the buildup.

The white handkerchiefs were out at half-time before Lopetegui introduced the curiously-benched Gareth Bale and then Karim Benzema.

Marcelo finished well with his right foot after Benzema’s cut-back from the touchline on 72 minutes, while the French forward also struck a post and Mariano Díaz was denied by yet another VAR review, but despite the late rally Lopetegui’s fate may now be sealed.