Atletico Madrid’s La Liga title dream ended with a shock 2-1 loss at relegated Levante on Sunday.
The result left Diego Simeone’s men three points behind Barcelona, but Luis Enrique’s side have a superior head-to-head record and cannot be caught by Atletico, while Real Madrid are now two points ahead of their cross-city rivals.
Simeone’s charges were high on confidence after winning their last six league games and reaching the Champions League final – where they will meet Real – at the expense of Bayern Munich on Tuesday, but were brought down to earth with a bang as Giuseppe Rossi netted a late goal to shunt them down to third in the table
The Argentine coach opted to rest star attacker Antoine Griezmann, with Angel Correa getting the nod alongside Fernando Torres up front as they took on opponents whose relegation had already been confirmed.
It was Torres who gave Atletico a stunning start with a goal after just two minutes, but the visitors were unable to push on at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia.
Levante fought hard to give their fans a fine farewell in their last home game of the season and Victor Casadesus levelled the scoring just past the half-hour mark.
Stefan Savic and substitute Griezmann had chances to win it for the away side after the break, but Levante eventually emerged victorious as Rossi scored late on to seal a remarkable win.
Atletico opened the scoring through Torres after just two minutes. Koke split Levante defence with a clever throughball and the experienced striker lifted the ball over goalkeeper Diego Marino with a deft touch to net his 10th La Liga goal of the season.
Levante first threatened in the 12th minute when Verza tested Jan Oblak with a powerful shot from outside the area that went straight at the Atletico goalkeeper, but it was the visitors who looked the more dangerous early on.
Torres was only denied by a last-ditch tackle from Juanfran, before the goalscorer fired just wide having cut inside from the left-hand side of the area, while he was unfortunate not to get his head to the ball after Marino missed Koke’s corner.
The first hint of a major surprise came in the 31st minute when Casadesus beat Oblak with a strong header from a searching Mauricio Cuero cross to level the scoring.
Atletico came close to restoring their lead when Savic diverted a header from Jose Jimenez just wide early in the second half after a corner from the right.
The home side could have taken the lead midway through the second half after Casadesus found Jose Morales with a lofted throughball, only for the midfielder to see his headed attempt land on the roof of the net.
The title challengers pushed hard for a second-half winner and Griezmann – who had replaced Correa at half-time – perhaps should have restored his side’s lead after some good work from Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, but Marino pulled off a fine save to keep the score level.
Torres was next to be denied by the Levante goalkeeper, while Ferreira-Carrasco aimed inches wide from a dangerous position.
Rossi then struck in the closing stages of the game to stun Atletico, coolly slotting home after being set up by Morales to leave the visitors’ focus firmly on European glory in Milan on May 28.