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Torres salvages point for Atletico at Levante


torresAtletico Madrid failed to secure their place in next season’s Champions League as Fernando Torres’s late strike only salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw at Levante.

David Barral put the hosts in front only for Guilherme Siqueira to strike back almost immediately in the first half.

Kalu Uche’s fortuitous finish after the break looked set to mathematically secure Levante’s place in the top flight next season, but Torres’s powerful header from Koke’s corner handed the outgoing champions a point.

Atletico now lead fourth-placed Valencia by four points with two games to play and a top-four finish for Diego Simeone’s men could still be confirmed on Sunday if Sevilla fail to win at Celta Vigo.

However, the fight for the Champions League places could easily go down to the final day with Atletico set to host Barcelona next weekend with the Catalans needing one win to seal the title.

Atletico started brightly at the Ciutat de Valencia, but couldn’t find a way past Diego Marino as Mario Mandzukic’s three-month goal drought continued when the Levante ‘keeper got down brilliantly to save the Croatian’s header nine minutes in.

Juanfran then made a fine clearance at the other end to prevent Jose Luis Morales applying the finishing touch to an incisive counter-attack by the hosts.

Levante did go in front just after the half-hour mark when Miranda’s poor defensive header presented the ball to Ivan Lopez as his low cross left Barral with the easiest of finishes for his 13th goal of the season.

Atletico responded immediately as left-back Siqueira swept home his first goal for the club since joining from Benfica last summer from Tiago’s cross.

The visitors were again the dominant side for much of the second period, but were caught out once more when another simple cross from Lopez found Uche unmarked and the ball ricocheted into the net off the Nigerian after his initial effort had been saved by Jan Oblak.

Torres replaced Mandzukic for the final half hour and provided the finishing touch that the former Bayern striker has lacked recently 11 minutes from time as he rose highest to bullet home Koke’s corner.

Atletico could have snatched all three points towards the end, but Marino made another fine stop to deny Jose Maria Gimenez as Levante edged closer to sealing their La Liga status for a sixth consecutive season.

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