Posted: Sat December 21, 2013 4:11PM; Updated: Sat December 21, 2013 4:11PM

La Liga: Atlético keep pressure on leaders with Llevante win

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Diego Costa scored two goals against Levante to keep Atlético Madrid near the top of the La Liga table.
Diego Costa scored two goals against Levante to keep Atlético Madrid near the top of the La Liga table.
Andres Kudack/AP

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Diego Costa scored his Spanish league-leading 18th and 19th goals to help Atletico Madrid come back to beat Levante 3-2 on Saturday and provisionally move to the top of the table.

Levante stunned the hosts by scoring less than a minute into the match when Andreas Ivanschitz finished off a team buildup.

After its nervy start, Atletico took control through Diego Godin's 30th-minute header and Diego Costa put his team ahead two minutes after the break.

Levante wasn't done and Pedro Rios made it 2-2 in the 56th with a solo effort to win the ball, sprint forward and score from distance.

Diego Costa, however, restored Atletico's lead for good in the 77th by stepping up to convert a penalty after Juanfran Torres was fouled by Ruben Garcia.

Ten-man Sevilla won 2-1 at Villarreal on Saturday as it rebounded from its humbling exit from the Copa del Rey with a fourth win in five rounds of the Spanish league.

Sevilla was shocked by third-division side Racing Santander in the Copa on Wednesday, but Ivan Rakitic returned to the squad to help deal Villarreal just its second loss at El Madrigal Stadium this season.

Rakitic found defender Juan ''Cala'' Torres with a long pass to head Sevilla in front in the 24th minute.

Striker Carlos Bacca was denied by the woodwork before he scored his eighth league goal from a pass by Rakitic in the 71st.

Villarreal's Jeremy Perbet converted a penalty in the 89th after Cala received a red card for fouling Jaume Costa in front of the net.

''This victory is important beyond our elimination from the Copa, but it is still just another step forward,'' said Sevilla coach Unai Emery. ''It's true we had a painful start to the season. The team is settling down and this win will boost our confidence.''

Also, Almeria won 1-0 to keep Real Betis bottom of the table and winless in 10 rounds.

Midfielder Ramon Azeez netted what proved to be the winner four minutes in when his long strike took a deflection off Betis defender Paulao to fool goalkeeper Guillermo Sara.

Almeria goalie Esteban Suarez did the rest, making several saves to further infuriate Betis' disgruntled fans.

Betis has shown no improvement under new coach Juan Carlos Garrido. It has lost both league matches and struggled to get by minnow Lleida Esportiu in the Copa since Garrido replaced the fired Pepe Mel.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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