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Real Madrid Vs. Levante, La Liga 2012 Match Recap: Cristiano Scores Three, Gives Real Madrid the Win

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There was a time when Real Madrid won easily at the Bernabeu, a time when visitors were not used to scoring first. At that time, however, Real Madrid probably wasn't leading with a ten-point cushion.

Today, Levante got ahead in the scoreboard off a set piece. Sergio Ramos touched the ball but it went right to Gustavo Cabral, who just had to use his head to push the ball inside Casillas's goal. Real Madrid played really well throughout and managed to get the three points after Cristiano Ronaldo got a hat-trick and Benzema scored one of his best goals of the season.
After Levante scored their first goal, Real Madrid started to play at their best. Levante was defending with 11 men and kept a very narrow space between the defensive line and the midfielders. Özil was great during the first half, and so was Esteban Granero. The Spanish midfielder still needs to release the ball faster, because he slows down many of Real Madrid's attacks.

Higuaín, Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema had some very good goal-scoring chances, but Munua and Levante's defense managed to keep Madrid scoreless until Victor Iborra controlled the ball with his hands inside the box and referee Undiano Mallenco called a penalty-kick. Iborra saw a yellow card after he tackled Karim Benzema, so he was sent off, and Cristiano Ronaldo tied the game up from the penalty spot.

The halftime arrived with the score tied at one. Levante's coach Juan Ignacio Martínez substituted Nabil El Zhar and decided to play Miguel Pallardó in Levante's midfield to make up for Iborra's red card.

Only five minutes had passed when Higuaín won the ball and crossed it over to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese player went after the ball and scored his second goal of the game. The game was already in Real Madrid's hands and seven minutes later the current "Golden Boot" scored what was arguably one of his best goals in Real Madrid's uniform.

The defensive transition, however, was not very efficient. This is something the team must improve upon when Granero and Xabi Alonso play in the midfield, since they are not known for their defensive effort and quickness. When Khedira or Lass play, Real Madrid's rivals are unable to go on the offensive this often. Khedira's recovery might be key for the rest of the season due to Real Madrid's current lack of midfielders.

Arouna Koné was able to score Levante's second goal off of one of these counter attacks. Ramos and Pepe need to work on aerial crosses because Real Madrid earns most of their goals this way.

Luckily enough for Real Madrid, Karim Benzema scored Real Madrid's fourth goal three minutes later after a great curve shot. Munua couldn't do a single thing to stop Benzema's shot, and Levante started to miss some easy chances.

Callejón, Khedira and Kaka joined the game for Higuaín, Granero and Özil, respectively. Nuri Sahin didn't have the chance to play this game, but Real Madrid might need him sooner rather than later--and if so, the Turkish player should be ready to deliver. Di María and Marcelo will likely come back from their injuries for the next game against Racing Santander, and they will also be very important during the Champions League's leg against CSKA Moscow, which begins next week.

Real Madrid is now ten points ahead of FC Barcelona in la Liga, and as Jose Mourinho pointed out, 13 more wins will seal the title for the merengues.

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