La Liga: Levante 2 – 1 Atlético
Bottom-side Levante beat tired Atleti to end championship hopes
An early Fernando Torres goal wasn’t enough for Atlético Madrid as they lost 2-1 to bottom-side Levante in Valencia on Sunday evening, ending their faint title hopes.
Levante fought back and grabbed a last minute winner through Giuseppe Rossi to make sure Atleti are unable to catch Barcelona at the top of La Liga, and slip into third after Real Madrid’s win.
It wasn’t long before Atlético took the lead against already-relegated Levante. After only 80 seconds of the game, Fernando Torres had the ball in the back of the Levante net after a delightful finish.
Who set El Niño up? Of course, that man Koke. It’s a combination that Atlético’s have seen produce a number of goals this season, and this afternoon it gave Fernando Torres his 10th goal in this season’s La Liga.
A through ball from Koke set Torres up to chip the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper to put Atleti one up against the league’s bottom side.
It was Koke’s 14th assist this season, setting a record for a single Atlético player this centry.
Fernando Torres almost had a second a few minutes later were it not for a fantastic last-ditch interception from Levante’s Juanfran after Torres had nutmegged David Navarro. Our number 9 certainly looked up for the game, given what was at stake in games elsewhere.
With the other two sides at the top of La Liga winning 1-0, Levante hit back at Atlético with a fantastic header on the half-hour mark. Casadesus fired home a bullet-header after some great work on the wing from Cuero. The header was too fast for Oblak, who could only swipe at air as it raced past him. 1-1.
Koke provided Torres with a good chance to have a shot at the Levante goal with the last chance of the half, but the ball struck Torres’ shin and went well wide of the goal.
Diego Simeone, through German Burgós, made a statement at half-time. The suspended Argentinean brought off both Augusto Fernández and Ángel Correa at the break, replacing them with Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco.
The two had originally been rested ahead of two huge matches against Celta and Real Madrid, but level half-way through the game, it was time for action.
Fernando Torres remained on the pitch, despite the introduction of two more attacking threats. David Navarro gave the striker something to remember him by with a deliberate elbow to the back of Torres’ head, forcing El Niño off of the pitch whilst he stemmed the flow of blood.
Savic came close to restoring Atleti’s lead following a Gabi corner, but the central defender’s flicked effort bounced just wide of the Levante goal.
Miralles had the chance to make it 2-1 to the home side just after the hour mark, but couldn’t steer his header past Oblak after a great ball forward from Casadesus.
Casadesus was then brought down inches outside of the Atlético area by José Giménez. Very close to a penalty, but the referee pointed for a free-kick and booked the young Uruguayan defender.
Looking to inject some life into the Atlético players, Gabi was brought off to be replaced by Thomas Partey.
The substitutes combined to set up a dangerous chance for Atlético. Carrasco stripped Levante of the ball and ran at the defenders. The Belgian set up Griezmann but the goalkeeper Diego Mariño pulled off a fantastic save with one-hand to deny the Frenchman.
Fernando Torres fired a shot at Levante after Juanfran robbed his namesake, but it was another good save from the Levante goalkeeper.
Atleti seemed to wake up, and this time it was Yannick Carrasco who fired a strike wide of the home side’s goal. The goal just didn’t seem to want to come.
With a minute left of the 90, Atleti were caught on the counter-attack and the substitute Giuseppe Rossi snatched a late winner to hand Levante all three points, and end Atlético’s title-hopes.
With Barcelona securing a 5-0 win over Espanyol, they are three points clear of Atleti with a better head-to-head.
Real Madrid take over from Atleti in second place, after beating Valencia 3-2 at the Bernabeu.
It’s a disappointing end to Atleti’s league campaign, but there’s one more final on the horizon at the end of May.
|Ciutat de València|
|08 May 2016|