Atletico Madrid put the pressure on FC Barcelona in its fight to lead La Liga with a 3-2 win over Levante, a gritty victory as the scoreboard indicates that was settled in the final minutes with a penalty goal by Spanish-Brazilian Diego Costa.

The striker put the ball into the net twice to remain the Spanish league's top scorer and assure Levante's loss, though the latter had stunned Atletico with its instant goal at minute 1 by Andreas Ivanschitz.

Down 0-1 at the start, Atletico faced a Levante with a well-defined plan: pressure at midfield, a speedy attack and massive pullback on defense.

Atletico was soon in comeback mode, however, and gradually had its opponent in retreat, piling on the pressure with constant crosses to center and corner kicks.

The Uruguayan Diego Godin slammed the ball into the net with header of a short cross by Juanfran, making it 1-1 at minute 29, and so it remained at the break.

But Atletico was on its way, and just two minutes into the second half, Diego Costa took a free kick from Gabi Fernandez, outmaneuvered the defense and notched a score to put his team up 2-1.

Not that Levante was done - when Koke mishandled the ball, Pedro Rios took possession and put it into the net at the 34th minute. And it was all tied up at 2-2.

Atletico was now playing against the clock, but again Diego Costa came through, this time with a penalty kick making it 3-2 at the 57th minute.

As a result, Atletico Madrid still provisionally leads La Liga when it meets Barcelona at Getafe this Sunday. EFE