February 4, 2018 / 3:04 AM / 19 days ago

Soccer: Pazzini earns Levante a draw against struggling Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) - Giampaolo Pazzini struck an 89th-minute equaliser on his Levante debut to earn his side a deserved 2-2 draw against struggling giants Real Madrid on Saturday.

Madrid stay fourth in La Liga after the veteran Italian forward broke through on goal and fired past Keylor Navas, who got a hand to it but could not keep the ball out.

Sergio Ramos, back from injury, opened the scoring with a header in the 11th minute from Toni Kroos’s corner, but Emmanuel Boateng equalised shortly before halftime when he slotted home from the edge of the area after Navas had denied Jose Luis Morales.

Isco, brought on for the ineffective Gareth Bale, looked to have earned Madrid the three points when he slammed home in the 81st minute but Pazzini, on loan from Verona, had the final say.

The 33-year-old’s late strike denied Madrid the chance to move above Valencia and go third, with Los Blancos left 18 points behind their rivals and unbeaten league leaders Barcelona.

“We were controlling the game but we made two mistakes and conceded two goals; that is football,” Casemiro told beIN Sports.

“If you do that in defence then the other team can hurt you. We have to think game by game, we are playing well and improving.”

Ramos, making his first league appearance since Dec. 23 when Madrid were crushed by Barcelona in the Clasico, opened the scoring with a header which earned him the individual record of being the first defender to score in 14 consecutive seasons.

However his day soon soured when he was booked for an elbow on Boateng and then played Morales onside for Levante’s equaliser.

The winger burst through on goal and was denied by Navas, facing his former side, but Boateng was on hand to carefully steer home the rebound.

Zidane took off Bale for Isco and changed formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 as he looked for more control of a ragged game. It paid dividends when Karim Benzema set up the Spaniard to fire home, before Pazzini put Levante level again.

Reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by Clare Fallon

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