Real Madrid Loses 1-0 to Levante in Spain



Real Madrid was stunned on Sunday after losing 1-0 to Levante giving the Spanish powerhouse its first loss of the league season.

Levante's Arouna Kone's second-half goal was enough to sink Real Madrid.

While Barcelona routed Osasuna 8-0 for its biggest home win under coach Pep Guardiola on Saturday, a lackluster Madrid was held scoreless for the third consecutive visit to Ciutat de Valencia stadium.

Madrid played a man down from the 40th after Sami Khedira received his second yellow card.

Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench at halftime to try and spark Madrid, but Kone converted Levante's numerical advantage into the 68th-minute winner.

The loss left Madrid one point behind Barcelona and two points behind league leader Valencia.

"We knew it was going to be a complicated game," Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. "Clearly, when you have to play with a man less it is more difficult to circulate the ball."

Earlier, Radamel Falcao got a hat trick to lead Atletico Madrid to a 4-0 win over Racing Santander, and Luis Garcia scored two goals -- including the injury-time winner-- to lift Zaragoza to a 2-1 win over his former club Espanyol.

In a meeting between the teams with the smallest and largest budgets in Spain, the Levante succeeded in hanging firm with Madrid in the first half and taking advantage of its extra man later.

Kaka was given a rare start in place of Ronaldo, who hurt his ankle during Wednesday's 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.

Despite looking sluggish, Madrid still had chances to go ahead early.

Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munua almost gifted Madrid a goal in the 23rd when he collided with a teammate and spilled the ball to Fabio Coentrao. The Portuguese midfielder laid off for Karim Benzema, but Levante defender Sergio Ballesteros blocked his shot on the goalline.

Khedira was sent off after receiving his second yellow card for pushing over Ballesteros during a spat that broke out between the two teams over a foul disputed by Angel Di Maria.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho sent on Ronaldo for Benzema at the beginning of the second half and shortly after added more firepower with Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain substituting Coentrao.

But it was Levante that broke through when Kone sent his right-footed blast over Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas after Javi Venta set up the former Sevilla striker in the area.

Madrid tried to press for the late equalizer but Levante's defense had little trouble resisting until the final whistle for its first league home win in seven tries against the powerhouse.

"On grounds like this the league is also won and lost," Ramos said. "We have to continue working and look ahead."

Falcao scored Atletico's first goal of the season with a blast from just inside the area in the 23rd at Vicente Calderon stadium.

The Colombia striker then made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the 36th, and fellow new signing Arda Turan assisted Falcao and substitute Adrian Lopez in the second half to guarantee Atletico its first victory of the Spanish league season.

Falcao, who joined Atletico from FC Porto this summer to replace forward Sergio Aguero, has scored four goals in three appearances overall.

At La Romareda stadium, Garcia, who joined Zaragoza earlier this month after six years with the Barcelona-based Espanyol, headed in his new club's first goal of the season in the 29th.

Defender Javi Lopez equalized for the visitors in the 71st, and Espanyol looked set to earn an away draw when goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez blocked Garcia's penalty kick in the 87th.

But the 30-year-old Garcia made up for his miss when he appeared in the area to volley in a loose ball three minutes into injury time to earn Zaragoza's first win of the season.

"We head home with the cruelty of football," said Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino. "It was our turn to experience the bitter side (today), but with the knowledge that in football there is always the chance for revenge."

Elsewhere, Michu scored in the fourth minute to give promoted side Rayo Vallecano a 1-0 win over Getafe -- its first victory in Spain's top flight after eight seasons in the lower division.

Later, Real Betis is at Athletic Bilbao.

On Saturday, Lionel Messi scored a hat trick to lead Barcelona's win over Osasuna.

Roberto Soldado gave first-place Valencia a 1-0 win at Sporting Gijon, and promoted side Granada beat Villarreal 1-0 for its first win in Spain's first division in 35 years.

Malaga edged Mallorca 1-0, and Sevilla downed Real Sociedad 1-0.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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