VALENCIA :Gareth Bale scored his first goal in almost two years for Real Madrid in LaLiga on Sunday but substitute Vinicius Jr stole the show with two late strikes to grab a 3-3 draw at Levante in a game that had it all.
Welshman Bale got Real off to a fine start in the fifth minute by stroking home a cut-back by Karim Benzema and nearly grabbed another goal with a ferocious free kick which fizzed just wide as Carlo Ancelotti's side dominated the first half.
But they found themselves 2-1 down early in the second period after a remarkable transformation from Levante, who were playing for the first time in front of fans at their renovated Ciutat de Valencia stadium.
Levante striker Roger Marti beat Thibaut Courtois to level just after the interval before Jose Campana put the hosts in front with a sensational volley in the 57th.
Ancelotti took off Bale, Eden Hazard and Isco moments after the goal and substitute Vinicius made the difference, levelling in the 73rd minute with a coolly taken finish following a defence-splitting through ball from deep by Casemiro.
Levante restored their lead in the 79th though Roger Pier following a free kick and were inches away from grabbing a fourth when Alejandro Cantero struck the far post on another rapid counter-attack.
But Vinicius again came to Real's rescue, levelling in the 85th minute with an audacious shot in off the post from a tight angle.
More chaos was to come as Levante keeper Aitor Fernandez was sent off for flying out of his area and handling the ball to stop a Real counter, leaving defender Ruben Vezo to don the gloves and protect the goal for the remaining few minutes.
Real coach Ancelotti was furious with his side's drop in intensity after the break.
"We had everything under control but we're very soft in the second half, that's not what you expect from Real Madrid. We threw away two points today," said the Italian.
"It's difficult to explain, I told the players that any small detail can cost you the game and that's what happened. We leave here with a bad taste because we should have got more than a point after our brilliant first-half performance."
Levante also felt they got less than they deserved.
"We're a brave team that goes looking for our opponents in their own half," said Campana.
"They didn't finish us off in the first half and we showed our best football in the second. We were very comfortable on the counter-attack and could have killed the game.
"But when you let Real off the hook you always end up paying for it. But overall a point is very good seeing how much pressure they put us under."
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)