Benzema scores twice in 'game of two halves' for Real Madrid
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (right) vies for the ball with Levante's Nemanja Radoja during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain on Saturday.
Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid produced a good first-half display in their 3-2 win at home to Levante.
Casemiro added a third goal for Real Madrid before the game, against a side expected to struggle this season in La Liga, changed radically in the second half to leave Zinedine Zidane's side hanging on for the final whistle.
Madrid started brightly with Benzema looking lively and Lucas Vazquez hitting the woodwork before the French striker opened the scoring with a free header from a cross by full-back Dani Carvajal in the 25th minute.
His second goal came six minutes later when James Rodriguez collected a poor defensive header before setting Benzema up with a neat left-footed pass to leave the striker with a routine finish.
Madrid was playing arguably their best football since the start of pre-season and Casemiro added a third after Vinicius Jr found space down the right to cross for the unmarked midfielder to score a simple chance.
Things changed in the second half and Borja Mayoral, who is on loan at Levante from Real Madrid through his side a lifeline with a left-footed shot after a decent ball from the left.
Benzema was inches away from a hat-trick when his shot bounced back off the post before Eden Hazard replaced Casemiro with 30 minutes remaining to make his Madrid debut. He gave a glimpse of his talent with a run and a shot that was well saved by the Levante keeper Aitor, but it was Levante who netted a second for the visitors with a far post header with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Thibaut Courtois then became Madrid's hero when he did well to parry Ruben Vezo's flying injury time header for Levante. A meter either way and we would have been looked at some very different headlines in Madrid.