Atletico slip up at Levante
Last Updated: 04/05/14 6:32pm
Levante's goalkeeper Keylor Navas celebrates a goal
Atletico Madrid's bid to be crowned Primera Division champions for the first time since 1996 suffered a major blow as they were beaten 2-0 at mid-table Levante, a result that gives fresh hope to title rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Following Barca's surprise home draw with Getafe on Saturday, leaders Atletico knew if they won their next two games against Levante and Malaga they would clinch the title ahead of their last-day meeting with the defending champions.
However, an early own goal from Filipe Luis saw Atletico fall behind at the Ciutat de Valencia and then David Barral added a decisive second for Levante midway through the second half.
Diego Simeone's men pushed hard to try and get something back in the closing stages but they could find no way through to leave Barca and Real Madrid celebrating an unexpected boost in the title race.
Atletico came into the match in buoyant mood after beating Chelsea in midweek to reach the Champions League final, while they were on a nine-match winning streak in La Liga, during which time they had conceded just one goal.
However, their efforts at Stamford Bridge, combined with a determined Levante side, meant it was never going to be an easy afternoon for the Rojiblancos in Valencia and life became even tougher when they fell behind in the seventh minute.
An outswinging corner from the right was missed by Simao Junior and Diego Costa at the near post and Filipe Luis, standing just behind them, could do little as the ball struck his chest and rebounded into the net past a scrambling Thibaut Courtois.
Atletico sought a quick response but found Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas in top form, the Costa Rica international saving well from Raul Garcia before David Villa blazed the rebound over.
Navas then parried a Toby Alderweireld shot away at his near post to keep Levante ahead at the break.
The visitors continued to push after the break but substitute Arda Turan was unable to take advantage of two good openings in quick succession before the stretching Costa was agonisingly close to turning in a superb Diego free-kick at the far post.
Navas then produced the save of the match to keep out out Alderweireld's deflected 25-yard drive as it arrowed towards the top corner.
That was a huge moment in the game, as just two minutes later Levante went down the other end and made it 2-0.
Victor Casadesus dinked the ball into the area where Barral took it down with a good first touch before poking his shot past Courtois just as Diego Godin challenged him.
The sizeable Atletico support were left stunned by that goal, and despite their side's best efforts, the visitors could not get back into the match.
Adrian Lopez came closest for Simeone's side with a shot that struck the woodwork but it was not to be for the Rojiblancos, who must now regroup quickly if they are to keep alive their hopes of a Primera Division-Champions League double.
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