Madrid, Sep 19 (IANS): Real Madrid suffered their first defeat of the current Spanish Premier League season by losing 0-1 away to Levante Sunday.
Arouna Kone scored a second half goal to produce the biggest shock of the season to date as Real Madrid succumbed to a side whose annual budget is just a fraction of their own.
Levante defended deep and took one of only two chances they created, while Real Madrid were below their best and failed to create clear chances all through the game.
Real Madrid started without Cristiano Ronaldo, who picked up an ankle injury during the week, and Mesut Ozil, who was rested ahead of next week's game in Santander.
Sami Khedira came into midfield, with Fabio Coentrao playing on the wing, while Kaka started in place of Ozil.
From the kickoff it was clear that Levante would be happy with a 0-0 result as they placed ten men behind with ball and looked to clear long to striker Aruna Kone.
Real Madrid had the ball in the net after just nine minutes as Levante keeper Gaston Munua dropped a simple cross. Fortunately for Levante, Benzema's close range finish was ruled out for offside.
Benzema should have capitalised on another Munua error after 20 minutes. The keeper dropped another high ball, but the Real Madrid striker hit his shot at the only defender who was on the goalline and the chance was wasted.
Against a side that was only interested in defending and frustrating their attacks, Real Madrid were trying to open up the full width of the pitch with full backs Marcelo and Sergio Ramos pushing forward, but were reduced to ten men just before the break when an Angel De Maria foul provoked an ugly scene between both sets of players.
Referee Turienzo Alvarez showed several yellow cards, one to Khedira, who had been booked earlier in the match and was subsequently sent off.
Jose Mourinho reacted by bringing Ronaldo on at halftime and Gonzalo Higuain ten minutes later for the disappointing Kaka.
However, Real Madrid lacked any fluidity in attack and Levante should have taken the lead after 65 minutes when Juanlu broke the offside trap only to shoot wide with Valdo totally unmarked in the middle.
Four minutes later, Levante found the goal through Kone who smashed home from inside the penalty area after a good run from veteran defender Javi Venta.
That was a sign for Real Madrid to throw everything forward in attack, but found themselves struggling to break through the massed rants of blue and purple shirts, while the Levante players used every possible opportunity to waste time until the final whistle.