Lopetegui booed as Madrid suffers worst scoring drought

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MADRID (AP) – After seeing their team suffer its worst scoring drought and lose for the fourth time in five matches, Real Madrid fans ran out of patience.

They loudly jeered coach Julen Lopetegui and his players after Madrid reached 481 minutes without finding the net in losing to Levante 2-1 at home in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Lopetegui, only three months into his stint with Real Madrid, defended himself against the critics.

“Football matches are won by scoring goals and not according to who deserves to win,” he said.

“We did what we needed to do because we had 34 or 35 shots on goals, 14 or 15 of which were on target. We had goals ruled out, hit the woodwork three times. … We attacked a lot and looked dangerous. The stats aren’t worth much at all, what counts are the goals. This is the way things go in football.”

Local media immediately questioned whether Madrid should fire Lopetegui before next weekend’s clasico at Barcelona or give him a chance to try to save his job against the rival.

Lopetegui insisted he wasn’t too concerned.

“I’m more motivated than ever,” he said. “I worry about quickly picking up the boys and keep believing, because it’s the only way to change this run.”

Before the clasico, Madrid hosts Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday in the Champions League to try to rebound from a 1-0 loss at CSKA Moscow.

The European champion could drop further in La Liga by the end of the weekend. Madrid is three points behind surprising leader Alaves. The winner of the Barcelona-Sevilla game later Saturday will move to the top of the standings. Atletico Madrid, two points behind Sevilla, visits struggling Villarreal also on Saturday.

ANOTHER DRAW

Valencia couldn’t manage more than 1-1 against struggling Leganes at home, being held winless for the fifth time in six matches.

Valencia has only one win this season, 1-0 at Real Sociedad two rounds ago.

Jose Gaya scored in the 85th minute to keep the hosts from losing after Gerard Gumbau put Leganes ahead with a second-half penalty kick.

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Real Madrid’s Marcelo reacts after a missed opportunity during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul White)
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