Atletico Madrid gave renewed hope to their La Liga title rivals on Saturday by losing 2-0 at home to Levante and missing the chance to extend their six-point lead at the top of the table.
The defeat is only Atletico’s second in the league this season and their first at the Wanda Metropolitano in any competition since Barcelona beat them there in December 2019.
It means what could have been a commanding 11-point advantage at the top of the table is now just six, with Real Madrid, the closest challengers, up against Real Valladolid later on Saturday.
Due to rearranged fixtures, Atletico were facing Levante for the second time in four days, having already dropped two points against them in an away 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
And Levante proved that was no fluke by going one better, their impressive victory inflicting another setback on Diego Simeone’s side, who will have to rediscover their rhythm for Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 first leg at home to Chelsea.
Luis Suarez will be up against English opposition again in midweek and the Uruguayan went closest to finding an equaliser, his bending free-kick in the second half coming back off the post.
Suarez has now gone three league games without scoring for the first time this season.
Jose Luis Morales had already put Levante in front after half an hour and while Atletico huffed and puffed for most of the second half, they could not find a way through.
With goalkeeper Jan Oblak up for a corner in injury-time, Jorge de Frutos made it two by launching into an open net.
Atletico have now gone seven league games without a clean sheet, their longest run since Simeone became coach in 2011.
Another concern for Simeone will the fitness of central defender Jose Gimenez, who had to go off injured in the second half, making him a doubt to face Chelsea in midweek.