Levante dealt a blow to leaders Atletico Madrid’s title hopes with a victory at fortress Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.
Jose Luis Morales and Jorge de Frutos were on target as Levante consigned LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid to a first home defeat since December 2019 in a shock 2-0 win on Saturday.
Atleti were held to a 1-1 draw at Levante in midweek and their title hopes suffered a big setback against the same opponents three days later.
Morales’ 12th goal of the season in the first half and Frutos’ effort on the counter-attack at the death ended the leaders’ run of 22 LaLiga games without defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano, giving second-placed Real Madrid the chance to reduce their advantage to only three points by beating Real Valladolid later on Saturday.
What does it mean? Atleti appear to be feeling the heat
Simeone said Atleti’s dropped points at Levante in midweek were not down to nerves, but they may be jangling this evening.
Their city rivals can turn up the heat if they secure victory later in the day and although Atleti will still have a game in hand, the pressure is most definitely on.
Levante had not won in 14 away matches against Atleti, losing 11 in a row, but ended that dismal run by consigning Simeone’s side to a first home defeat since Barcelona’s 1-0 victory almost 15 months ago.
Morales Levante’s main man
Skipper Morales missed a golden opportunity to put Levante in front early on, but did not dwell on that poor finish.
The forward’s opening goal was somewhat fortunate, but he deserved it for a lively display and now has 11 for the season in LaLiga – one of which came in another stunning 2-1 win against Zinedine Zidane’s champions at Santiago Bernabeu in January.
Kondogbia lapse costly
Midfielder Kondogbia really ought to have prevented Morales opening the scoring, failing to show enough desire to deal with a loose ball in the penalty area.
He did not provide a commanding presence in the middle of the park, losing possession on four occasions and making just one interception before he was hooked off by Simeone just after the hour-mark.
Atleti must regroup ahead of a Champions League round-of-16 first-leg clash at the neutral venue of Arena Nationala in Bucharest on Tuesday, while Levante are at home to Athletic Bilbao on Friday.