Levante’s Marti sinks 10-man Real Madrid
IMAGE: Real Madrid’s Eder Militao is shown a red card by referee David Medie Jimenez. Photograph: Javier Barbancho/Reuters
Levante striker Roger Marti brushed off squandering a penalty to score the winning goal as his side pulled off a shock 2-1 La Liga victory at Real Madrid on Saturday after playing the majority of the game with an extra man.
Real defender Eder Militao was sent off in the ninth minute of a highly eventful game for denying Sergio Leon a clear scoring chance but the champions took the lead in the 14th with a superb goal on the counter-attack from Marco Asensio.
Levante’s talismanic forward Jose Luis Morales equalised with an unstoppable first-time finish in the 32nd minute and his side earned a penalty in the second half but Real keeper Thibaut Courtois palmed away Marti’s spot-kick.
Marti had the final say, though, teeing himself up to blast a shot past Courtois in the 78th minute and clinch an unlikely Levante win that left second-placed Real seven points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who have two games in hand.
Real were without coach Zinedine Zidane, who continued his recovery from COVID-19, while injured captain Sergio Ramos sat in the stands wearing a mask but could still be heard yelling at his team mates and the referee.
After seeing Militao dismissed following a VAR review, Madrid responded perfectly and Toni Kroos threaded a precision pass into the path of Asensio, who raced through and slotted confidently into the bottom corner.
The goal was controversial as Ferland Mendy appeared to have elbowed Levante’s Gonzalo Melero in the Real area just before the hosts launched the counter.
Levante kept their cool and after Courtois made an outstanding double save to preserve his side’s lead, there was little he could do to keep out Morales’s effort.
The visitors then dominated the second half as Real’s tired legs gave way and substitute Vinicius Jr. made a careless late tackle on Levante’s Carlos Clerc, which was first given as a free kick then upgraded to a penalty after a VAR review.
Marti spurned a glorious chance to put his side in front, but just as he had done against Osasuna earlier in the season, he made amends for his penalty miss by giving his side the lead.
“When big decisions go against you it’s always going to be an uphill battle and in the second half we were so tired and we couldn’t react,” said Real keeper Courtois.
Match-winner Marti dismissed Real’s complaints about the decisions, saying they had been fortunate not to concede a penalty for Mendy’s challenge just before Asensio’s goal.
“There were many key moments in the match,” he said.
“Things should have gone in our favour with the sending off but we weren’t able to respond at first and were 1-0 down to a great Madrid side. But we waited for the right moment to pounce.”
Bayern overrun Hoffenheim 4-1 to go 10 points clear at top
IMAGE: Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Thomas Muller. Photograph: Guenter Schiffmann/Reuters
Bayern Munich crushed visitors Hoffenheim 4-1 on Saturday with four different scorers, to go provisionally 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga in their quest for a ninth consecutive league crown.
Goals from Jerome Boateng, Thomas Mueller, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry secured a comfortable win and lifted Bayern to 45 points, with second-placed RB Leipzig, on 35, hosting Bayern Leverkusen, in third on 32, later on Saturday.
The Bavarians were lucky not to fall behind after Ihlas Bebou twice failed to score in front of goal in the opening minutes before defender Boateng restored order when he headed in a Joshua Kimmich corner in the 32nd.
Mueller, who had hit the crossbar in the 15th minute, fired in two minutes from the break for his 10th goal of the campaign in the 43rd but Bebou partly made amends only a minute later, curling a superb cross for Andrej Kramaric to volley in and cut the deficit.
The hosts, however, restored their two-goal lead with top scorer Lewandowski tapping in a Kingsley Coman cutback for his 24th goal of the campaign.
Gnabry sealed their win with a shot from a tight angle in the 63rd, his first goal since October.
Dortmund beat Augsburg 3-1 for first win in four games
IMAGE: Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland and teammates celebrate after FC Augsburg’s Felix Uduokhai scored Borussia Dortmund ‘s third with an own goal. Photograph: Leon Kuegeler/Reuters
Borussia Dortmund snapped a three-match winless streak by easing to a 3-1 win over Augsburg in the Bundesliga.
Augsburg completely outplayed the Dortmund defence in the 10th minute with a deep cross finding Marco Richter who then quickly fed unmarked Andre Hahn in the box to fire in.
The hosts, who then dominated the rest of the game, could have levelled soon after but Erling Haaland thundered his penalty on the crossbar, with the shot so hard that the ball bounced off the woodwork and landed outside the box.
Their dominance paid off, however, in the 26th minute when captain Marco Reus floated a free kick into the box and Thomas Delaney headed in an equaliser.
Jadon Sancho then slotted in from a quick break to make it 2-1 in the 63rd before Haaland forced Augsburg defender Felix Uduokhai to score an own goal when he deflected the Norwegian’s cross into his own net.
Dortmund climb back up to fifth on 32 points, 13 behind leaders Bayern Munich, and three behind second-placed RB Leipzig, who take on Bayer Leverkusen, also on 32, later on Saturday.
Milan back to winning ways with nervy victory at Bologna
IMAGE: AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic misses a penalty. Photograph: Alberto Lingria/Reuters
AC Milan got back to winning ways in Serie A with a 2-1 victory at Bologna, with goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in fine form to help his side open up a five-point lead at the top of the standings.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the chance to put the leaders ahead when his spot kick was saved in the 26th minute but Ante Rebic latched onto the rebound to fire home.
Bologna had three glorious chances to level before the end of the first half, but were denied by some brilliant saves from Donnarumma.
Those stops proved crucial as Milan were awarded another penalty in the 55th minute. Franck Kessie converted from the spot to double his side’s lead.
Substitute Andrea Poli got one back for the hosts in the 81st minute, but they could not find an equaliser despite plenty of late pressure.
Milan, who had lost their last two games in all competitions, moved onto 46 points, five clear of second-placed Inter Milan. Bologna stay 13th on 20 points.
“Today was a strong response from the team,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli told a news conference. “In the last two days we increased our pace and quality and today it showed.
“To win in this championship sometimes you have to struggle. It’s nice to win like this.”
Milan, who were unbeaten this season in Serie A until their loss to Juventus on Jan. 6, suffered their second league defeat of the campaign last weekend to Atalanta at home, before then losing to Inter in Tuesday’s Coppa Italia quarter final.
They started well in the Renato Dall’Ara Stadium in Saturday’s first Serie A fixture, however, with Rebic bailing out Ibrahimovic after his poorly-placed penalty was saved.
The goal meant Milan have found the net in 20 away league games in a row for the first time in their Serie A history, overtaking a 19-game goalscoring run between 1992 and 1993.
Even with Fikayo Tomori, on loan from Chelsea, making his first start the gaps started to appear at the back for Milan, but Bologna could not find a way past Donnarumma.
A needless handball from Adama Soumaoro gifted Milan their second spot kick, but again it was Bologna doing most of the attacking in the second half.
There was nothing Donnarumma could have done about Poli’s arrowed strike, but the Milan stopper preserved a vital win for his side with another fine save late on.