Atletico Madrid rejects the chance to move evenly on points with Real Madrid Thursday after conceding two penalties, the second in the 89th minute, to tie 2-2 away against Levante. Atletico took the lead twice in the City of Valencia Stadium when Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring before Matheus Cunha’s first goal for the club looked as if he had won. But each time, Levante, who sits second down, bounced off the spot after a Luis Suarez foul and then a late handball by Renan Lodi allowed Enis Bardhi to deflect from 12 yards out. “The reality is that we need to improve quickly and quickly,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who was also sent off towards the end of the game after receiving a second yellow card for disagreement.
Atletico are up to fifth, five points from early leaders Real Sociedad, who earlier returned to the top of the table after winning 2-0 away against Celta Vigo.
Goals from Alexander Isak and Aritz Elustondo in the second half were enough for La Real, who have not lost since losing 4-2 to Barcelona on the opening day of the season.
Simeone said before the game that he was “worried but busy” correcting his team’s unexpected fragility in defense, with this game making it seven goals in the last three games.
Atletico have won just one of their last four league games, against Barcelona, after a surprise defeat by Alaves and a draw against Real Sociedad and now Levante.
Luis Suarez, Griezmann and Joao Felix started together again in a top try and it is possible that the combination of the trio’s talents in the attack will come at a cost against the strength of the team.
Atletico take on Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday, which is a tough match in the Champions League Group B and they will probably be punished again if they do not manage to hold on against Mohamed Salah.
Griezmann’s opening came in the 12th minute when his corner to the left of the penalty area was returned to him. Griezmann hung a cross to the opposite pole and Felipe’s floating kick over found the Frenchman again, who nodded.
Levante equalized shortly before half-time when Suarez climbed over Ruben Vezo and Barhdi made no mistake.
Cunha, who joined Hertha Berlin in the summer, might have thought he had scored the winner 14 minutes from the end when he slipped brilliantly through Rodrigo de Paul and finished.
But Levante came again, Jose Luis Morales’ cross at one point diverted to Lodi’s hand, causing referee Pablo Gonzalez to consult the repeat and award the penalty. Bardhi got the corner.
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