Matheus Cunha went from ecstasy to despair as he followed his first Atletico Madrid goal by conceding a late penalty that Levante scored to salvage a dramatic 2-2 draw.
In his seventh outing since signing from Hertha Berlin in a reported €30million deal in August, Cunha appeared to have netted the winner with 14 minutes remaining at Estadio Ciutat de Valencia.
However, as Diego Simeone watched from the stands after being shown a second yellow card for dissent, Cunha was deemed to have handled the ball in the box when referee Pablo Gonzalez Fuertes reviewed footage on the pitchside monitor.
Enis Bardhi, who cancelled out Antoine Griezmann’s opener in the first half, drilled in a second penalty of the game in the 90th minute to deny the reigning LaLiga champions the full three points.
Levante competing against the top ranked teams in #LaLigaSantander.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) October 28, 2021
Griezmann had put Atleti ahead inside 12 minutes with his first LaLiga goal since returning to the club from Barcelona, following up his cross and nodding home Felipe’s header back into the middle.
Levante responded well to going behind and drew level in the 37th minute when Bardhi slammed home a penalty after Luis Suarez miscontrolled the ball in the box and fouled Ruben Vezo.
Atleti finally regained their lead when substitute Rodrigo de Paul drove forward and released Cunha – who only replaced Griezmann four minutes prior – to slot beneath Aitor Fernandez.
Simeone remained heated and was shown a second yellow card for remonstrating at the fourth official, with Atleti unable to hold on for the victory.
A harsh handball decision against Cunha resulted in a penalty that Bardhi confidently dispatched low into the left corner to send the home fans into raptures, though Rober Pier received a second yellow card after the final whistle for complaining to the referee.
What does it mean?
Atletico have struggled at Estadio Ciutat de Valencia under Simeone – prior to kick-off, the only LaLiga grounds where they had a higher losing percentage were Camp Nou and the Reale Arena.
Although they now haven’t lost on any of their past five top-flight trips to Levante, they will have been hoping for more than a draw against the leakiest defence in the competition this season.
Failing to see out the victory means they are five points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Sociedad, who were 2-0 winners at Celta Vigo earlier in the day – Atleti do have a game in hand, though.
Bardhi is a set-piece specialist, but his two penalties were his first goals from the spot for Levante. He also created three chances for team-mates in a thoroughly impressive outing.
Atleti’s toothless trident
Griezmann may have got on the scoresheet, but his link-up with Suarez and Joao Felix was nowhere near as exciting as it promised to be. Griezmann and Suarez did not share a single pass, while Joao Felix and the France star only exchanged the ball four times.
Atleti have an important meeting with fourth-placed Real Betis to look forward to on Sunday, while Levante are at home to Granada on Monday.
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