Gareth Bale scored his first Liga goal since 2019, but it took two late goals from his replacement, Vinicius Junior, to give Real Madrid a 3-3 draw at Levante on Sunday.
That result allowed champions Atletico Madrid, who defeated Elche 1-0 earlier in the evening, to take the lead in La Liga.
In the late game in Valencia, Bale gave Real Madrid the lead after just five minutes. Karim Benzema came in on goal, but the ball was held up on the pitch by the water and he had to cut the ball back to Bale, who pushed the ball home sideways.
It was the Welshman’s first La Liga goal since his second goal, an 86th-minute equalizer, in a 2-2 draw against Villarreal in early September 2019, a game he ended with a red card.
Real dominated the first half but couldn’t find a second. Instead, Levante equalized 28 seconds into the second half.
The ball broke to unmarked Roger who defeated Thibaut Courtois with a hard low shot
Levante took the lead in the 57th minute when Jose Campana ran into a deep cross with a sweet volley into the top corner.
Real manager Carlo Ancelotti promptly ripped off Bale, Isco and Eden Hazard in a triple substitution.
One of the subs, Vinicius paid his coach back after 73 minutes, accelerated on a pass from Casemiro, shook off a defender and rolled a shot into the corner of the net.
Seven minutes later, David Alaba nodded a Levante free kick into his own six-yard penalty area and Rober Pier gleefully hammered the ball in from close range.
With five minutes to go, Vinicius equalized again.
He received the ball near the post and close to the goal line, but he somehow still found the net, shoving the ball around goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez and past the far post.
Two minutes later, Fernandez was sent off for trying to stop a Real counter-attack outside his own area. As Levante had used all their substitutes, defender Ruben Vezo went into goal, but Real were unable to find a winner.
“He has qualities, he is very fast, he is young, he is a great striker,” said Ancelotti of the Brazilian, but declined to say whether Vinicius would start the next game, which could cost Bale his place.
“I don’t care so much about who starts the game or not. It’s not that important. Today Vinicius changed the game with his freshness.”
“What we missed was in defence, not in attack,” said Ancelotti, who said his team needed to work on their “defensive effort”.