MADRID – Real Madrid clung on to record a nervy but vital 3-2 win at home to Levante in La Liga on Saturday following a shoddy second-half performance after taking a three-goal lead with a Karim Benzema double and Casemiro strike.
Benzema headed Real in front after 25 minutes when he met a cross from Dani Carvajal and the France forward struck again a few minutes later with a well-taken finish after latching on to a pass from James Rodriguez.
Brazil midfielder Casemiro stretched Real's advantage right before halftime with a gut-busting run to meet a cross from compatriot Vinicius, but Levante hit back shortly after the interval through former Madrid forward Borja Mayoral.
Perhaps with Wednesday's Champions League opener at Paris St Germain in mind, manager Zinedine Zidane brought off captain Sergio Ramos and Casemiro on the hour, allowing Eden Hazard to finally make his Real debut after recovering from injury.
Madrid's 100 million euro ($110.73 million) signing looked off the pace in his first competitive game though and, as the home side's intensity dropped off, Levante became emboldened.