Real Madrid ensured they would remain at the top of La Liga, handing Levante their first defeat in eight league matches with a 3-0 win at the Bernabéu. The victory is Madrid's 16th straight win at home, part of an overall unbeaten streak that stretches back into 2013.
Real Madrid shot out of the gates like a champion thoroughbred intent on winning another race. They but Levante under a ton of early pressure but the visitors were up to the task. Les Granotes goalkeeper Keylor Navas was tested early, denying Cristiano Ronaldo's short range effort from the left side of the box with an excellent one-handed save.
In the 11th minute, Navas couldn't prevent Ronaldo from putting Madrid ahead. Ángel di María sent a corner into the middle of the Levante box and Ronaldo did the rest, rising up to meet the ball and heading down and to the left to beat Navas and make it 1-0. Mohamed Sissoko and David Navarro failed to close the space around Ronaldo correctly, leaving the Portuguese striker far too much room to work in so close to the goal.
Karim Benzema came ever so close to doubling the lead in first half stoppage time, putting a shot off the the far post. Benzema got in front of his marker and sent a downward header that Keylor Navas was just able to get his fingertips on, sending it off the post rather than into the back of the net.
Just over three minutes into the second half, Madrid got their second goal. Ronaldo provided the assist and the decoy, drawing off two Levante defenders before finding Marcelo as he cut into the 18-yard-box. Navarro tried to turn and cover the fullback but Marcelo quickly stepped inside as the defender had his back turned and fired a rocket past Navas to make it 2-0.
The goal was Macelo's first since a Champions League match in September 2012.
Sergio Ramos picked up a yellow card in the 54th minute for stepping in front of Loukas Vyntra. It's the card that Ramos wanted -- he'd be trying to get booked from the opening whistle -- because he can now serve his accumulation suspension next week when Madrid faces Málaga, leaving him free and clear for the Clásico on March 23rd.
The physical play continued as the second half dragged on and the referee finally had seen enough in the 64th minute and showed Levante's Navarro a straight red card. His tackle on Ronaldo was reckless as he came in from behind on the striker, taking out his leg. While his studs weren't up, it was enough to convince the referee to send him off.
Levante's head coach Joaquín Caparrós was furious and ended up in a brief shouting match with Madrid fans behind the bench.
Madrid added a third goal in the 81st minute thanks to a rather unfortunate own-goal when Nikos Karabelas put the ball into the back of net as he tried to clear it out for a corner.
Real Madrid: Diego López, Carvajal, Varane (Nacho 69'), Ramos, Marcelo, Alonso, Modrić (Isco 74'), Di María, Bale, Benzema (Jesé 82'), Ronaldo
Goals: Ronaldo (11'), Marcelo (49'), Karabelas (og 81')
Levante: Keylor Navas, Vyntra, David Navarro, Juanfran, Nikos, Pallardó (El Adoua 69'), Sissoko, Pinto (Nagore 74'), Ivanschitz, Pedro López, Barral (Ángel 87')