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Atletico boost Champions League hopes

Atletico boost Champions League hopes

Atletico Madrid needed a late Fernando Torres header to earn a 2-2 draw with Levante and strengthen their grip on third place in La Liga.

Torres came off the bench to meet Koke's 80th-minute corner and his powerful effort crept past Diego Marino at the near post, to save third-placed Atletico from a disappointing defeat at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia on Sunday.

Despite controlling possession early, Atletico fell behind just after the half-hour as David Barral netted his 11th of the La Liga season from close range.

That lead was wiped out almost immediately, though, as Guilherme Siqueira registered his first Atletico goal with a neat volley from six yards.

Chances were few and far between early in the second half until Kalu Uche was presented with an opportunity, the Nigerian gratefully accepting at the second attempt.

Atletico's attempts to get back into the game looked to be coming up short, until Torres rose to score his third league goal since re-joining his boyhood club.

It moved Atletico four points clear of Valencia in the race for a top-three place and automatic qualification for the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Sevilla also failed to win on Sunday, drawing 1-1 with Celta Vigo.

With an eye on the second leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final, Unai Emery named regulars Carlos Bacca, Aleix Vidal, Vitolo, Ever Banega and Daniel Carrico on the bench.

But that did not hamper Sevilla, with Kevin Gameiro firing the visitors into an eighth-minute lead from close range.

Sevilla were wasteful in front of goal and they were punished 13 minutes into the second half, when Santi Mina converted a penalty for Celta.

Sevilla remain fifth in the standings, 13 points clear of Villarreal, who edged Elche 1-0.

Meanwhile, Malaga - seventh in the table - overcame Almeria 2-1.

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