Hazard hobbles off as Real Madrid fall to second


Real Madrid dropped to second place in La Liga with a 1-0 defeat at 10th-placed Levante in a match that saw Eden Hazard limp off with an injury on Saturday.

The result puts the Bernabeu side, who entered the day with a point cushion atop the table, two points behind new leaders Barcelona who won 5-0 earlier in the day.

With the oft-injured Hazard making consecutive starts for the first time since November, Real were unlucky not to convert a pair of gilt-edged chances in the first half.

Hazard missed Real’s best chance after a Marcelo through ball played him behind the Levante back line in the 53rd minute — his mis-hit left-footed shot tumbling tamely at Aitor Fernandez in goal.

Zinedine Zidane was forced to bring on the youthful Vinicius Junior for a hobbling Hazard in the 67th minute, then it was Levante who scored the breakthrough on 79 minutes, with Jose Luis Morales sensationally beating Thibaut Courtois with a sweetly hit left-footed shot from a difficult angle outside of the box.

Madrid will face Manchester City in a Champions League round-of-16 first-leg tie next week and could be without Hazard, who had recently returned from a foot injury, if tests on Monday show he has picked up a serious injury.

“It’s bad, it doesn’t look good because he hurt himself where he was injured. It’s a knock, not more than a knock, but we’ll see if it’s not much,” Zidane said of the injury after the match. “Right now it hurts him, and we’ll see tomorrow when we do more tests.”

The Belgium international has played in just nine of Real’s 25 league games this season but in five of their six Champions League matches. Hazard, who joined Los Blancos from Chelsea for £88.5 million plus bonuses last summer, has scored just once in all competitions.

“Apart from the result, there’s the injury to Hazard,” said Real defender Sergio Ramos. “Let’s hope it’s not too much and it’s not as serious as the first one. He’ll undergo tests and let’s hope he returns as soon as possible because it seems like just when he’s well and can help the team, unfortunately, he suffers another injury.”


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