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Real Madrid rescued by Vinicius Junior, 9/10, in comeback draw vs. Levante

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Has Vinicius Junior proven he should start for Real Madrid? (0:57)

Alejandro Moreno dives into Vinicius Junior's performance in Real Madrid's draw with Levante. (0:57)

Vinicius Junior came off the bench to score twice as Real Madrid were held to a wild 3-3 draw at Levante on Sunday.

Gareth Bale opened the scoring in the first five minutes after David Alaba spotted Karim Benzema's run down the left. The forward pulled back for Bale to slot past goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez. Levante pulled level just after halftime, with Roger Marti beating Thibaut Courtois, and then Jose Campana put the hosts ahead with a spectacular far-post volley.

- Report: Vinicius Jr. scores twice in comeback 3-3 draw
- LaLiga on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Substitute Vinicius made it 2-2, finishing calmly when played through by Casemiro. As if that wasn't drama enough, defender Robert Pier put Levante back in front before the Brazil international grabbed his second goal with a spectacular finish from a difficult angle, and goalkeeper Fernandez was sent off late on.

Positives

Isco has looked beyond recovery for some time now, a shadow of the player who was once arguably the best playmaker in LaLiga not called Lionel Messi. In the first half he was seemingly reborn, showing serious enthusiasm, effort and intensity not seen in years. Whatever Carlo Ancelotti has been doing with the midfielder since taking over this summer, it's working. If Isco keeps this up, the decision to allow Martin Odegaard to leave this month will have been vindicated.

Time and time again in his three years at Real Madrid, Vinicius has shown that he has all the raw ingredients to be an elite player, except for consistency of end product. That had frequently made him a frustrating, even infuriating watch. Here, his two goals suggested that could finally be changing. Both finishes were composed and precise, and the second strike was so good that it required repeat viewing to fully understand what he'd even done.

Negatives

Levante are a fun-to-watch and talented side, but the manner in which the second half ran away from Real Madrid was a concern. They looked vulnerable at the back and without Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in midfield, there was no-one to give the team the rhythm and control that was so desperately needed. That second-half fragility was entirely unexpected given what had come before, but that doesn't make it any less concerning.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- This kind of game is a joy for the neutrals, but an absolute nightmare for coaches. Carlo Ancelotti's team were great to watch in the first half and their second-half fightback was thrilling, but the complete chaos in between will be a major worry. Ancelotti deserves credit for his decisive substitutions, though, making a triple change immediately at 2-1 down, including the introduction of Vinicius that ended up rescuing a point.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 -- Got a hand to Roger Marti's shot that made it 1-1, but couldn't keep it out. Won't have enjoyed being beaten three times.

DF Lucas Vazquez, 5 -- Failed to pick up Campana at the far post for Levante's second goal. Being taken off for the back-from-injury Dani Carvajal not long afterwards seemed telling.

DF Nacho, 5 -- Usually so consistent, but endured a bad night here. The team could have done with leadership from senior players like Nacho to calm things down in a wild second half.

DF Eder Militao, 6 -- Partly to blame for Levante's first goal, which came at a really bad time.

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2:47

Levante, Real Madrid play to draw in epic second half

Levante and Real Madrid trade goals multiple times in the second half, but the two clubs play to a draw in front of an electric Levante crowd.

DF David Alaba, 7 -- A clever pass for Benzema started the move that led to Madrid's opening goal.

MF Casemiro, 8 -- Played an incredible through ball for Vinicius' first goal. Grew in influence as the game went on.

MF Fede Valverde, 6 -- Never stopped working, but not his most consequential performance.

MF Isco, 8 -- The first 45 minutes were his best in a Real Madrid shirt for years, involved all over the pitch. Somewhat surprisingly substituted in the second half.

FW Eden Hazard, 6 -- A subdued display. Taken off after an hour.

FW Gareth Bale, 7 -- Scored his first LaLiga goal since September 2019. Could have had another with his first-half free kick.

FW Karim Benzema, 7 -- Set up Bale with some typically composed forward play, but was much quieter after that.

Substitutes

FW Marco Asensio, 6 -- Replaced Isco but didn't look entirely comfortable in midfield. Had a shot deflected wide in added time.

FW Vinicius Junior, 9 -- A super finish for the first goal -- something that's often been a weakness in his game -- and a work of pure, improvised genius for the second.

FW Rodrygo, 7 -- Couldn't match the goalscoring impact of Vinicius.

DF Dani Carvajal, 7 -- Provided one dangerous cross from the right. Began the move that ended with Vinicius finding the net for the first time.

FW Luka Jovic, NR -- Played the last ten minutes and could have scored with a header.