Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the game as Atletico Madrid beat Levante on Sunday afternoon.
Atleti sat five points behind league leaders Barcelona before kick off, with the gap narrowed to just two points with Barca still to play Eibar.
Levante also started 2019 in undefeated form, drawing 2-2 with Girona at home last weekend before defeating Barca 2-1 in the fifth round of the Copa del Rey on Thursday. Following Valencia’s draw with Real Valladolid on Saturday, victory would have seen the Granotas leapfrog their neighbours into the top half of the table.
The visitors played some well-drilled pressing to force Atleti to pass around their own half but it was the hosts who thought they grabbed the first goal in the tenth minute.
Vitolo found space on the left flank and found Koke in the box who hammered into the bottom right corner, however the goal was ruled out via VAR after a foul was committed in the build up. Levante’s defensive work continues to shine throughout the first 45 and the teams retired to their dressing rooms with the game still tied at 0-0
The deadlock was finally broken ten minutes into the second half. Nikola Vukcevic was judged to have handled the ball in the penalty area and Antoine Griezmann successfully converted the spot kick to give Los Colchoneros a one-goal advantage.
Levante felt they still had a chance in the game, and Paco Lopez brought on Ruben Rochina and Borja Mayoral to galvanise the visiting attack.
The guests nearly grabbed an equaliser when Jose Luis Morales cut past Santiago Arias on the left hand side, however his shot was denied by a point blank save from Jan Oblak, and the game was effectively over.
Atleti will remain in second even if Sevilla pick up an away victory over Athletic this afternoon. Diego Simeone’s men welcome Girona to the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday for the second leg of the Copa del Rey, with the sides drawing the first leg 1-1.
Levante sit in 11th spot and head to the Nou Camp on Thursday hoping to shock the footballing world by eliminating Barcelona from the cup.
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): Oblak, Arias, Savic (Gimenez, 9), Godin, Juanfran; Koke, Thomas, Rodri, Vitolo (Kalinic, 76); Correa (Lemar, 72), Griezmann
Levante (3-5-2): Oier; Cabaco, Suarez Pier, Chema (Coke, 45); Jason, Campana, Vukcevic (Rochina, 68), Bardhi, Tono; Roger (Mayoral, 68), Morales