Friday 23 June 2017

Khedira sent off as Levante send Real Madrid reeling

Jamie Holland

Ten-man Real Madrid crashed to a shock 1-0 defeat at Levante last night as the tiny Valencia-based club spoiled the nine-times European champions' perfect start to the season.

Jose Mourinho's side had Sami Khedira sent off five minutes before half-time and fell behind when Levante forward Kone, who joined from Sevilla in the close season, smashed the ball into the net with just over 20 minutes left.

Cristiano Ronaldo, top-scorer in the league last season with a record 40 goals, started on the bench after a gashed ankle in midweek Champions League action. Mourinho brought his compatriot on at the break to replace the ineffective Karim Benzema but not even the former World Player of the Year could find an equaliser.

German international Khedira was shown a second yellow card after getting caught up in a melee and shoving the home side's captain Sergio Ballesteros to the ground. The result is a major shock considering Levante's annual budget is around €20m, compared with Real's of just under €500m.

ruthless

Elsewhere Cesc Fabregas scored his third league goal in as many games and set up three others in ruthless Barcelona's 8-0 obliteration of Osasuna on Saturday.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick in the rout, David Villa hit a brace, Xavi exquisitely lobbed the goalkeeper, and Roversio helped Barca on their way with an own goal. Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said his team had put on a "show" in an effort to atone for only drawing their previous two games -- against AC Milan in the Champions League and Real Sociedad in La Liga.

"We played well and we have worked hard to help people enjoy what has become a good show," he added.

Valencia maintained their perfect start to the season with a 1-0 win away at Sporting Gijon thanks to Roberto Soldado's close-range effort.

In Italy, Edinson Cavani scored a hat-trick to help Napoli beat defending champions AC Milan 3-1 last night, while Juventus won 1-0 at Siena to extend their perfect start to the season.

Alessandro Matri scored in the 54th minute, finishing off a swift counterattack for the Turin powerhouse, who completely remodelled their team after finishing seventh last season and missing out on Europe.

Edinson Cavani scored a hat trick to help Napoli beat defending champion AC Milan 3-1 Sunday and make an early-season statement that it could contend for the Italian league title.

Joe Cole started his first game for Lille, but the Ligue 1 champions could only draw 2-2 at home to Sochaux.

Irish Independent

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