The result saw Real Madrid break the unwanted record for the longest goalless run in the club’s history, going 481 minutes without finding the net, but it could also cost Lopetegui his job, with speculation already mounting before this game that he could be replaced, eurosport.com reported.
Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema were dropped to the bench, perhaps with next week’s El Clasico in mind, but that decision quickly backfired as Levante took the lead after just seven minutes, making the most of some slack defending from Raphael Varane to score through Jose Luis Morales.
Levante doubled its advantage soon after, with VAR used to award a penalty kick for a handball by Varane. Roger stepped up to the spot to convert and give the visitor a shock 2-0 lead after just 14 minutes.
Real Madrid thought it had halved the deficit when Sergio Ramos and Marcos Asensio bundled home between them, but VAR showed that the latter had been offside and the goal was chalked off, much to Lopetegui’s frustration, as he increasingly cut a desperate figure.
Marcelo got one back late in the second half, firing a finish high into the net with his right foot, but that was where the fightback ended, with Levante holding on for only its second ever win at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Was this effectively the end for Lopetegui at Real Madrid? Before this match, the debate was over whether Lopetegui could survive as Real Madrid manager. Now, the talk will be over whether it is best to change manager before or after the Clasico next weekend.
Lopetegui looked a desperate man on the touchline for much of this match. He had the air of a manager who has lost control of his team. Speculation concerning his future will continue to mount after this. It seems unlikely that he will survive.
Man of the match
Jose Luis Morales (Levante): Defensive uncertainty was a real feature of this match for Real Madrid and in Morales the side faced a player equipped to make the most of this. Time and time again he got on the end of long balls over the top, scoring the opener in this way, getting in between Thibaut Courtois and Varane. Morales’ pace was a thorn in Real Madrid’s side all afternoon. He got the result he deserved.