Diego Simeone hailed Atletico Madrid for achieving the "almost impossible" to overcome Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals.

Atletico stunned Barca with two goals in the final nine minutes in a 3-2 victory in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Alvaro Morata's penalty and Angel Correa's strike saw Atletico into the final against rivals Real Madrid and the comeback was labelled as close to impossible by head coach Simeone.

"I think we must live it with calmness, that we qualified for the final. It is important for the supporters, it is important for the club, it is important for the players," he told a news conference.

"It was a very tough game against one of the best teams in the world. They are the best when it comes to possession, and to attack with it.

"We suffered quite a lot during the first half. I think the second half was different, they kept their intensity and had chances until the 75tth minute, when something appeared that will always distinguish Atletico Madrid – the heart, the strength and the belief.

"We faced a difficult situation, almost impossible. But, we had the feeling that if we could get an equaliser, we could win the game, and that's what happened."

Atletico face another huge test in the final, taking on Real Madrid in Jeddah on Sunday.

Simeone paid tribute to Atletico's rivals and their boss, Zinedine Zidane, ahead of the clash.

"I don't have any doubt that Zidane is a fantastic manager, suitable for Real Madrid," he said.

"The results speak for themselves. They have changed since the beginning of the season and that's reflected on the pitch despite the absence of [Eden] Hazard, [Karim] Benzema and [Gareth] Bale.

"They have five midfielders on the pitch. They can do it if they move and pass accurately. They showed this the other day [against Valencia] with a great performance.

"We'll face a potent and strong team as it is with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool."

Guillermo Amor played down suggestions Ernesto Valverde was close to being sacked after Barcelona's Supercopa de Espana loss to Atletico Madrid.

Barca conceded twice in the final nine minutes in a 3-2 semi-final defeat to Atletico in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

While they are top of LaLiga, Barca have won just one of their past five games, a period which has included three draws to reportedly put the pressure on Valverde once more.

However, Amor – the club's director of institutional and sporting relations – played down talk Valverde was close to being sacked.

"It has bothered us a lot to lose. We continue, this is very long," he told Movistar+.

"There are many and very important [games]. Of this you say about Valverde, there is nothing."

After Koke's 46th-minute opener, Barca led thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.

However, Alvaro Morata's penalty brought Atletico level before Angel Correa scored the winner four minutes from the end.

Amor lamented the result, with Messi and Gerard Pique both having goals disallowed by VAR for marginal offside decisions.

"When you have played football, you know that these things can happen, especially in important games with strong teams," he said.

"What you think is won, you can lose. In the summary of the game, I think we have dominated the first half.

"They advance and the two goals that were annulled indicate that we were close and we were superior."

Lionel Messi believes Barcelona played well in their Supercopa de Espana defeat to Atletico Madrid, but has called on Ernesto Valverde's side to cut out "child mistakes".

Barca went down 3-2 to Diego Simeone's side in Thursday's semi-final in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as Atleti teed up a final with Real Madrid.

After Koke had opened the scoring for Atleti, Messi equalised with a fine strike before Antoine Griezmann put Barca ahead against his former club.

But with Barca having had two goals disallowed by VAR, Atleti came from behind to claim a dramatic win thanks to Alvaro Morata's penalty and Angel Correa's effort.

Messi insists Barca must not be too down about the level of their display, though conceded they cannot continue making basic errors.

"It is a pity, we played a great game, after a long time we returned to have good feelings, having control and attacking all the time," Messi told reporters.

"We lost due to specific errors when they were almost out, in less than 10 minutes they had a result that we should have closed.

"Today we took a step beyond defeat but we are aware that we have not been doing things as we want, we do not want to make child mistakes again.

"It hurts because it is a title and we wanted to be in the final and win it, we played a good game but unfortunately we did not get the victory.

"We are still working and trying to improve, now we will have more days to prepare the next game, we have much to improve and although we have not been doing good games we will try to recover the game."

The defeat will put more scrutiny on the position of Valverde, but Messi insists the squad must stick together behind their coach.

"It is normal when there are defeats and the objectives are not achieved," Messi added.

"People see that their team does not play as they would like, as we would like, it is normal for them to talk but we have to be closer than ever, it is a difficult situation because we missed a title we wanted but we have to look forward."

Lionel Messi was hugged by a pitch invader following the final whistle in the Supercopa de Espana semi-final between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, before the intruding fan was tackled to the ground.

Angel Correa's late strike earned a dramatic 3-2 victory for Atleti in Saudi Arabia, teeing up a final against city rivals Real Madrid and adding more scrutiny to Barca boss Ernesto Valverde.

There was concern after full time, though, as Messi – who equalised for Barca following Koke's opener – was rushed by a spectator who had made their way onto the pitch.

The 32-year-old was in no way harmed, with the fan briefly hugging Messi before security personnel took him to the turf, with Barca's captain then making his way to the tunnel.

However, the incident will likely raise questions over the ease at which the spectator got onto the pitch and evaded security at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium – which also hosts Sunday's final – in order to reach Messi.

Ernesto Valverde admitted his future would come in for fresh scrutiny after Barcelona's dramatic defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana semi-final.

Goals from Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann looked set to send Barcelona into the final, as they recovered from conceding a Koke strike in the opening 20 seconds of the second half.

But Barcelona folded in the closing 10 minutes, and a penalty from Alvaro Morata was followed by a winner from Angel Correa as Atletico, second best for almost all of the match up to then, snatched a remarkable win.

It left Diego Simeone, Atletico's hard-taskmaster coach, jumping for joy on the touchline, while Valverde was left to reflect on a damaging defeat.

He has been repairing a reputation that took a battering with Barcelona's 4-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League semi-finals last term, when the Reds overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit.

But this meek surrender will not help, and Valverde said afterwards, when asked about his position: "We know what football is like and there is always instability when you lose. We will talk about this, it is inevitable.

"But I'll do my thing, which is coaching."

He added: "Of course, it was a match which we dominated. It seemed we had it in hand. It was a complete performance except in specific moments"

Valverde said Atletico throwing their quickest players forward in the closing stages "surprised" Barcelona.

"I don't think it was an accumulation of situations, but two actions that cost us dearly," he said.

He said it had been an "intense" match and that Barcelona's two disallowed goals in the second half, both after VAR reviews, had given Atletico the lifeline upon which they capitalised.

Simeone sent on Marcos Llorente for the final 18 minutes and felt he made a difference in midfield.

"From there the team looked better. It seemed that if we equalised we would win," Simeone said.

"With the best teams like Barca, Madrid, [Manchester] City ... they are on a higher level and we have to be patient. We have to play a final now."

Angel Correa stunned Barcelona with a late winner as Atletico Madrid snatched an improbable 3-2 semi-final victory in the Supercopa de Espana.

Barcelona had 75 per cent of possession in the opening 45 minutes in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and looked set to ease to victory once they got over the shock of shipping a goal to substitute Koke after 20 seconds of the second half.

Lionel Messi equalised, Antoine Griezmann headed Barcelona ahead against his former club, and Messi and Gerard Pique both had goals disallowed by VAR for marginal offside decisions.

But against the momentum, which suggested a Barcelona landslide, Atletico equalised when Vitolo was hacked down by Neto and Alvaro Morata fired home the ensuing 81st-minute penalty.

Atletico wanted a second penalty moments later when Pique handballed, but their frustration at not getting that decision was forgotten when Morata slipped Correa through and the Argentinian forward fired home the fifth and final goal of a remarkable game.

Now Real Madrid stand between Atletico and the Supercopa trophy, with the final on Sunday at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium.

Massimiliano Allegri is without a club since leaving Serie A champions Juventus at the end of 2018-19.

However, Allegri could be nearing a return to management sooner rather than later.

The Italian is believed to be interested in taking charge of Manchester United.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI WANTS UNITED JOB

Massimiliano Allegri is interested in becoming Manchester United manager as pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Allegri has been rumoured to be of interest to Bayern Munich after leaving Serie A champions Juve at the end of last season, while the Italian was also linked to Arsenal prior to Mikel Arteta's appointment.

However, he is reportedly holding out for the United job should Solskjaer be sacked. Ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also believed to be monitoring the situation.

 

ROUND-UP

- ElDesmarque claims MLS duo Inter Miami and LA Galaxy are ready to vie for the signature of Real Madrid's Gareth BaleChelsea, though, have also been linked with the former Tottenham star.

- The race is heating up for Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek. Struggling for goals and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic back at San Siro, the Poland international is wanted by Tottenham, reports The Guardian and Calciomercato. Spurs want to boost their attacking options following Harry Kane's injury. Aston Villa have also tabled a bid for Piatek, but Calciomercato claims he is holding out for a bigger club.

- While Piatek could prove a difficult signing, Villa are closing in on Milan goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Calciomercato, Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttomercatoweb say former Liverpool keeper Reina has agreed a contract with the Premier League side until the end of the season.

- The Mirror reports United are in the market to sign a defender on loan after Harry Maguire's injury. Maguire – the world's most expensive defender – is facing a spell on the sidelines due to a muscle tear.

United are also weighing up a move for Ajax and Netherlands star Donny van de Beek, reports The Telegraph. With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, the Red Devils are in need of midfield reinforcements. Van de Beek has previously been linked to Real Madrid.

- AS claims Atletico Madrid are looking at Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik as an alternative to Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani. Out of contract at season's end, Cavani is reportedly poised to make the move to Atletico, however, United and Arsenal are also interested.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter winger Matteo Politano has agreed to join city rivals Milan. Struggling for game time with the Nerazzurri, Politano's agent met with Milan's management on Wednesday as a shock switch nears.

Chelsea are preparing a £40million bid for West Ham defender Issa Diop, according to the Express. London rivals Tottenham are also reportedly interested.

Diego Simeone says every player needs a different amount of time to adapt to the "feeling" of playing for Atletico Madrid, amid continued struggles for his record signing Joao Felix.

Joao Felix, a €126million addition from Benfica in July, has scored just twice in 15 LaLiga appearances, adding a solitary assist.

The Portugal international has gone 659 minutes in the top-flight without scoring a goal or providing an assist and, ahead of Thursday's Supercopa de Espana against Barcelona in Saudi Arabia, Simeone was asked about the 20-year-old.

"Each player has a different personality, every player needs a different amount of time," Simeone told reporters, preferring to answer generally than discuss Joao Felix at length.

"We try to succeed in getting each one of [the new players] to experience Atletico with enthusiasm and emotion, because apart from their talent they need commitment.

"When the feeling of playing for Atletico appears, things come naturally to everyone, just like [Stefan] Savic when he arrived and Koke.

"I don't speak of names, but of the way of living the football that we have had [at Atletico Madrid] for a long time."

Joao Felix's struggles aside, Atletico come into the game in good form after recording four consecutive victories.

However, they have not beaten Barcelona in nine attempts across all competitions.

Simeone added: "We know the rival's virtues, as they have always had them. Their attacking play and players' individual moves end up breaking any collective work of their opponent.

"We go into the game with good momentum, with things to improve. Playing against the best in the world makes you stronger because you have to turn on the alarms from the start and the team grows and improves.

"It will be different from the league games because there is a direct elimination and only one result, which is to win.

"We understand it as an opportunity to continue growing as a club and team and to make our fans excited."

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is yet to be convinced by the changes made to the Supercopa de Espana, conceding he prefers the previous format.

The Supercopa de Espana was traditionally a two-legged affair played between the winners of LaLiga and the Copa del Rey at the beginning of the season, but following last term's one-off meeting between Barca and Sevilla in Tangier, Morocco, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) went ahead with a full revamp.

Instead of just two teams being involved, the Supercopa has been expanded to also include the runners-up from LaLiga and the Copa – meaning Barca and Valencia are joined by Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. It is also set to be hosted in Saudi Arabia for the next three editions.

Many have criticised RFEF's decision to take the competition to Saudi Arabia and Valverde suggested he favours the old format.

"It is a different format than we are used to," Valverde said ahead of Barca's semi-final against Atletico on Thursday.

"It's a final match and we approach it as a league game, knowing that we are looking for victory and we know how difficult it is to play against Atleti.

"We already saw it in the league, which we solved in the end. If they [the authorities] give me a choice, I prefer the previous format.

"It has always been the first title of the season, the game that opens the season, and I thought it was good. The Supercopa format has been changed and we will see how it is.

"We must bear in mind that the football we are involved in is an industry, sources of income are sought and in the same way that there are special connotations in this country, there are also in Morocco, where we played last year."

Barca's preparations for Thursday's match have not gone particularly well, however, as Wednesday's news conference was delayed significantly after their team bus got lost in Jeddah.

Valverde was due to speak at Al-Ittihad Sport City, but their driver set off for the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, where the two semi-finals – the first of which is set for Wednesday – will take place.

Their bus then became lost in traffic between the two venues, which are approximately 40 miles apart.

Lionel Messi will draw the crowds in their droves despite fears over ticket sales for the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia, insists Juan Antonio Pizzi.

Reports suggest a fraction of the tickets allocated to the four competing clubs – Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Atletico Madrid and Valencia – have been sold ahead of the opening game on Wednesday.

The first fixture sees Valencia face Zinedine Zidane's side, with Barcelona taking on Atletico in the second semi-final on Thursday.

And Pizzi, who played for Barcelona between 1996-98 and recently had a spell in charge of the Saudi Arabia national team, is confident the venues will be full for all of the matches.

"I have no doubt," he told Marca.

"They're aware of how much it means to have the four best teams in Spain and four of the best in the world. It's exceptional for them, like a party.

"Also, you have to keep in mind Messi is there, who's a person they admire and recognise, so seeing him on the pitch will be a big deal for them.

"They fill grounds and love the sport. The level isn't like Europe yet, and they know that, but that's why they're investing so much and it's why they follow European football so much.

"Every weekend they watch LaLiga, the Premier League and even the Bundesliga."

Pizzi, who won a top-flight title with Barca in 1998, said his old club have to be considered favourites but warned of the threat Diego Simeone's men will carry.

"Barcelona are a favourite in every competition they play," he said. "But it's one match, so anything can happen. Atletico are a very strong team, too, and they're hard to score against. It's an attractive semi-final."

Inter are seemingly nearing an agreement with Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, reports say.

The Denmark international is out of contract at the end of the season and has also been linked with a move away from Spurs in January.

Inter are among the clubs reportedly interested in Eriksen and it seems the Serie A high-flyers are close to a deal.

 

TOP STORY – INTER IN ADVANCED TALKS WITH ERIKSEN

Inter are in advanced talks with Eriksen for a move ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira.

However, he reports Spurs are looking to sell Eriksen in January for at least €20million (£17m).

Amid uncertainty over his future, Eriksen has made just nine Premier League starts for Tottenham this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at San Siro, multiple reports suggest Inter are eyeing Manchester United veteran Ashley Young. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Inter and United are in advanced talks regarding the 34-year-old.

- Georginio Wijnaldum has been linked with a surprise move from Liverpool, with his contract expiring in 2021. However, Sky Sports reports the Netherlands international is happy at the European champions and wants to stay as long as possible.

- Arsenal are looking to strengthen in January, but the Premier League club are considering loan deals. Goal reports Arsenal are unlikely to make any permanent signings this month, unless an opportunity is too good to turn down.

- In a Premier League relegation battle and with injuries mounting, Aston Villa have held talks with Milan over possible deals for forward Krzysztof Piatek and goalkeeper Pepe Reina, according to the Daily Mail. Villa lost Wesley and Tom Heaton for the rest of the season to begin the year.

- Wilfried Zaha still looks set to leave Crystal Palace. The star's agent is said to have held preliminary talks with Bayern Munich, although a move to the Bundesliga giants is unlikely, according to Sky Sports. The Mirror reports Zaha's new agent, Pini Zahavi, is also trying to get the attacker to Tottenham.

- There continues to be talk about a possible move to Tottenham for Thomas Lemar. The Independent reports Spurs are considering making a loan approach for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, with a £51million (€60m) option to buy.

Wolves star Adama Traore is reportedly attracting interest from Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester City.

Traore, formerly of Barcelona, has continued to impress this season, helping Wolves sit seventh in the Premier League.

Now, the former Spain youth international is reportedly being targeted by three of Europe's biggest clubs.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL, BARCELONA & MAN CITY EYE TRAORE

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester City are interested in signing Traore, according to 90min.

Traore has scored four goals and provided four assists in the Premier League this season.

The report says Wolves want at least £70million for Traore.

 

ROUND-UP

- Dani Olmo is expected to leave Dinamo Zagreb and is being eyed by several European giants. Goal reports Barcelona lead Chelsea and Manchester United in the race for the 21-year-old Spain international.

- Arturo Vidal is linked with a move to Inter, but he may be going nowhere. The cover of Sport reads 'You stay', with the report saying Barcelona have told the midfielder he will remain with the LaLiga giants due to his importance to the club.

- Chelsea have identified their top January transfer target. The Daily Express reports the Premier League side want Inter forward Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa this month to ease the pressure on Tammy Abraham.

- Inter are considering reinforcements on the left-hand side. CalcioMercato says Chelsea's Marcos Alonso and Parma's Matteo Darmian are both being considered by the Serie A high-flyers.

- It seems Edinson Cavani's time at Paris Saint-Germain is just about over. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Atletico Madrid and Cavani have an agreement in place and the LaLiga club want the forward to arrive in January.

- Wojciech Szczesny is set to extend his stay at Juventus. The goalkeeper will re-sign with the Serie A giants until 2024, according to CalcioMercato.

So, 19 games in and the big three are exactly where you would expect them to be in the LaLiga table.

Saturday saw all three teams in action following the resumption of top-flight action in Spain, with leaders Barcelona conceding late to lowly Espanyol as they were held to a 2-2 draw in an entertaining derby.

While Barca remain on top, Real Madrid are now level on points with their rivals after a 3-0 triumph away at Getafe. As for Atletico Madrid, they overcame Levante 2-1 at home to make it four wins on the spin in all competitions, keeping them in touch with the top two ahead of what could be an intriguing battle (after all, Sevilla are level on points with Atleti, too).

There has not been a genuine title race in the competition since Real Madrid were crowned champions in 2016-17. After processions in the previous two seasons, Barca look to have a fight on their hands to retain the trophy.

We take a look at the state of play for all three of Spain's big guns as they prepare to halt league duties temporarily again at the halfway stage, this time to take part in the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia.

 

1. BARCELONA (40 PTS)

Positives: Lionel Messi, of course. The Argentina forward has, not for the first time, dragged his team-mates along in games. Luis Suarez continues to be productive – he brilliantly made one goal and scored the other against Espanyol – and Barca are comfortably the competition's leading scorers, even if Antoine Griezmann has, so far, failed to fully deliver since his big-money move to Camp Nou. The development of Ansu Fati, whose meteoric rise has helped cover for Ousmane Dembele's absences, has been an undoubted plus, too.

Negatives: What difference has Valverde really made to the team he inherited from Luis Enrique in 2017? Back-to-back league titles is an impressive achievement, obviously, but stunning Champions League exits to Roma and Liverpool in the previous two seasons weigh heavily on his shoulders. As for the team itself, the strong spine that has been a characteristic of Barca for many seasons is starting to feel the strain. Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets are no longer at the peak of their powers and they have already shipped 23 league goals. Valverde also needs to work out his best combination in midfield, though he may have to wait until Arthur is fit to settle on an ideal line-up.

2. REAL MADRID (40 PTS)

Positives:  It has not been plain sailing for Zidane in his second spell in charge, with the first half of the campaign including a hammering against Paris Saint-Germain in Europe and a humbling at the hands of Real Mallorca. Still, he has built from the back, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois regaining his form to back up a defence that has conceded just 12 times in LaLiga. At the other end, Karim Benzema continues to lead the way, scoring 12 times and also providing five assists, while Federico Valverde has developed into such a consistently strong midfielder that talk of signing Paul Pogba has quietened, if only a little.

Negatives: Benzema cannot be relied on to do all the heavy lifting. Eden Hazard has only been able to show flashes of his talent since joining from Chelsea, the Belgium forward hampered by injuries, while Gareth Bale has been in and out of the team. Rodrygo Goes has shown flashes of promise, seeing him overtake fellow Brazilian Vinicius Junior in the pecking order. It feels as if an era will soon come to an end at Madrid, but an ageing squad knows how to prevail in the big moments. This could well be the last hurrah for some big names in the Spanish capital – do they have the stamina to go the distance and finish as champions?


3. ATLETICO MADRID (35 PTS)

Positives: No matter who they buy, and no matter what happens in friendlies (remember Atleti stuck seven past Real Madrid in a pre-season fixture last July), this still has all the trademarks of a Diego Simeone side. Some of the familiar old faces may have gone but they remain solid in defence and workmanlike going forward. Simeone builds his teams from the back – and this current version have only given up 12 goals, even while bedding in new players. Alvaro Morata has stepped up in the absence of Diego Costa, who appeared to be in a state of decline prior to his current injury, and they do have a plethora of hard-working midfielders to rotate down the stretch.

Negatives: Goals. Well, a lack of them actually. Morata is their leading scorer in the league with nine, ahead of Angel Correa on three, and next on the list is Joao Felix with two, but the Portuguese forward has started 2020 stuck in a drought. Atleti have managed to find the net 22 times in 19 games, which perhaps explains why they have been linked with moves for Edinson Cavani and Paco Alcacer during the January window. Plus, for all their focus on keeping clean sheets, they still have to lean on the outstanding Jan Oblak at times to make key saves. The goalkeeper demonstrated as much against Levante, twice denying the visitors in the closing stages to preserve a slender lead at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Jan Oblak is the best goalkeeper in the world and Atletico Madrid have him to thank for ensuring they held on for a 2-1 victory over Levante on Saturday, head coach Diego Simeone said.

Slovenia international Oblak showed incredible reactions to keep out a header from Enis Bardhi in the 93rd minute of the clash at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The keeper has saved 14 of the past 17 shots on target he has faced in LaLiga, including the last two against Levante.

Atletico have now won four games on the trot in all competitions and Simeone was full of praise for Oblak, although he was frustrated to have to rely on the 26-year-old after a string of wasted chances at the other end.

"For us he is the best in the world. He's one of our captains. He was there when it mattered most, but the last save was one of a player that wins you games," said Simeone.

"He gave us the possibility of winning a match that we should have finished off before.

"The headline is Oblak saved Atletico, but we would have saved it if we'd taken our chances before.

"I do not decide who wins a prize or not. It is unfair to talk about other goalkeepers, but it's clear that for us he is the best goalkeeper in the world."

Felipe's first LaLiga goal helped in-form Atletico Madrid to a 2-1 home win over Levante.

Three goals during a manic five-minute spell in the first half settled the match but did not typify an otherwise tepid encounter at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Angel Correa scored for the second straight game and while Roger Marti's ninth league goal of the season pulled Levante level, Felipe settled it with a powerful header.

Atletico now have four consecutive victories across all competitions and moved back to within five points of city rivals Real Madrid, while the result ended a three-match winning streak for Levante.

The hosts almost scored in the first minute on Saturday when Correa's shot was saved, Joao Felix and Saul Niguez then unable to convert follow-up attempts.

But Atletico opened the scoring after 13 minutes when Thomas Partey found Kieran Trippier on the right and the defender's volleyed cross was converted by Correa's superb first-time finish.

Roger replied three minutes later when his volley deflected in off the arm of Alvaro Morata after he had latched on to Jose Campana's free-kick.

Atletico swiftly got back in front, though, Renan Lodi whipping in a left-wing delivery that Felipe impressively headed in from 12 yards out, his effort coming just 109 seconds after Roger's strike.

Correa's shot forced a good one-handed saved from Aitor Fernandez shortly before the break and the Levante goalkeeper also kept out an effort from Joao Felix just before the hour mark.

Joao Felix also fired wide from the edge of the area late on but Atletico were still able to hold on for victory in relative comfort, albeit Jan Oblak had to make two late saves to deny Enis Bardhi.

 

What does it mean? Atletico's poor run behind them

Atletico have won four straight games for the first time this season and have clearly overcome their dreadful run that saw them taste victory in just one of the previous eight.

Four straight wins and eight goals have Diego Simeone's men in better shape, but there remains plenty of work to do before the Madrid derby on February 1.

Felipe fabulous for Atletico

As well as scoring his first LaLiga goal, Felipe tested goalkeeper Fernandez with another aerial effort and recorded game-high totals for interceptions (4) and clearances (8).

Joao Felix frustrated once again

The Portuguese forward came into the match having played 572 minutes in LaLiga without scoring or providing an assist. Despite Simeone giving him 87 minutes, that dreadful run continued as he mustered only one shot on target and did not create a single opportunity for his team-mates.

What's next?

Atletico will take momentum into their meeting with Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, while Levante do not play until a Copa del Rey tie with Real Jaen on January 12.

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