Torres gives Atletico draw; Villarreal seals Europa spot
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Fernando Torres scored with 10 minutes left to give Atletico Madrid a 2-2 draw at Levante in the Spanish league on Sunday, while Villarreal sealed a Europa League berth for next season.
Atletico’s draw kept the soon-to-be-dethroned champions in third place, four points above Valencia with two rounds remaining.
David Barral opened the scoring for Levante in the 32nd, only for Siqueira to level three minutes later. Kalu Uche put the hosts back ahead in the 63rd.
Atletico struggled in attack, but Torres substituted striker Mario Mandzukic with 30 minutes to play and headed in Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion’s corner for the equalizer.
“Torres went on and gave us power, speed and fresh legs,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “When the rival is tired, he performs better. That’s how we had planned it. (Mario) Mandzukic to start and Fernando for the second half. Fortunately, he scored the goal that got us closer to the result we wanted.”
Villarreal forward Joel Campbell nodded in what proved to be the 26th-minute winner to down Elche 1-0 at home, ending an 11-game winless streak and locking up a sixth-place finish for “the Yellow Submarine.”
“I’m extremely grateful and proud of this team,” said Villarreal coach Marcelino Garcia. “Two years ago we were in the second division and now we are going back to Europe.”
Elche was unlucky to not salvage at least a point after Pedro Mosquera sent two strikes off the woodwork. Elche remained in 13th place and safe from the relegation fight, in front of 14th-place Levante, which still has work to do to guarantee it stays up.
Elsewhere, Sevilla stumbled to a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo as it tries to catch Valencia and earn a Champions League berth.
Kevin Gameiro worked a one-two passing combination with Iago Aspas to put Sevilla ahead in the eighth, but Santi Mina leveled in the 58th from the penalty spot after Alejandro Arribas fouled Charles.
Sevilla coach Unai Emery missed the match due to the death of his father.
Sevilla will visit Fiorentina on Thursday holding a 3-0 advantage in their Europa League semifinal.
Malaga also broke a seven-game winless run by winning 2-1 at Almeria, moving the Andalusian club into seventh. Javi Guerra scored in the 69th minute to secure the victory that left Almeria one point above the drop zone.
Barcelona could clinch the league title next weekend with a win at Atletico. However, the final two rounds are in doubt after the Spanish federation announced it was suspending all matches from next Saturday in protest at a proposed law regulating the sale of broadcasting rights.
Barcelona needs only one win in its last two matches to dethrone Atletico after it beat Real Sociedad 2-0 on Saturday and second-place Real Madrid drew 2-2 with Valencia to fall four points adrift.