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Atletico Madrid lose to Levante in La Liga

Simeone stumbles
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Spanish Football's Levante UD beat visiting Atletico Madird 2-0, Sunday at Citutat de Valencia, making the race to the La Liga trophy tighter with just two weeks to go in the season.

Barcelona at 36 games played, 85 points, and six points to earn, can reach 91 points including a victory at home over Atletico which would give them the tie-breaker with Los Colchoneros if they tie on points. The Madrid leaders, with 88 points and six points to earn, would only need a tie at the Camp Nou if they can pull a win next week against Malaga. Meanwhile Real Madrid stands at 82 points but has 12 points to earn can win the domestic championship if they win their four remaining games.

The game started badly for Atleti with Filipe Luis' off-the-chest-ricochet own goal at the 7th minute. Thereafter the teams began to trade attacks as Raul Garcia and in particular David Villa had good scoring opportunities. Both seemed to be a bit off or were being saved by Madrid's coach, Diego Simeone, as neither made it to the first half whistle. Arda Turan and Adrian replaced the duo at the 45th minute.

The interesting thing about the substitutions, given how masterful Simeone has been this season with his strategic decisions, was that the coach felt his bench would do what his starters could not against a team Madrid seemed not to feel was up to the task of keeping a clean score sheet.

The second half saw Turan and Adrian and Tiago have chances but their efforts were ineffective and the frustration began to show in Atleti's increased fouling and eventual yellow cards.

At the 69th minute a Victor Casadesus cross found David Barral in the center of the box and he rifled it low into the net for the 2--0 score line in favor of Levante.

Yellow cards at the 72 (Madrid), 76 (Levante), and 78 (Madrid) attested to the intensity of the battle on the pitch.

In the remaining 15 minutes, stoppage time included, Madrid had six attempts to one for Levante, but none were fruitful.

This is a surprising loss for Atletico, as Levante is not in their class, but today Levante earned their victory and the Madrid side might just have put their magnificent season in jeopardy.

Real Madrid play later today and again on Wednesday and by then we will know what is what in the title race.

Meanwhile hosts Almeria needed a stoppage time score to beat relegation bound Real Betis 3-2 assuring the Andalusians will be well beyond the drop zone and into next year's La Liga.

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