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Costa nets 2, Atletico beats Levante 3-2

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

Atletico leads Barcelona by three points before its game at Getafe on Sunday, when the defending champion will be without the injured Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Victor Valdes and suspended striker Neymar.

Diego Costa moved two goals ahead of Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo in their scoring duel. The Brazilian-born striker whom Spain plans on taking to the World Cup has scored in all 11 of Atletico's wins he has participated in at Vicente Calderon Stadium this season.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone applauded his team's ability to come from behind for a second time this week, after a 2-1 win over Sant Andreu in the Copa del Rey.

“Football is a game of mistakes. We are not exempt from making them,” Simeone said. “Today we made some but I take away the turnaround we had four days ago ... we pulled out victories in both matches because this team never settles for less.”

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

Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was called into action to repel David Barral's hard strike in the 10th, after which he railed at his defense.

His teammates promptly responded by pushing Levante into its area, and the equalizer came on the half-hour when defender Diego Godin rose up to powerfully head Juanfran Torres' short cross past goalie Keylor Navas.

Diego Costa put his team ahead two minutes after the break by fending off his marker to volley in a lobbed free kick from Gabi Fernandez.

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 advantage for good in the 77th by stepping up to convert a penalty after Juanfran Torres was fouled by Ruben Garcia on the edge of the box.

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Atletico's Diego Costa, left, celebrates his goal with Diego Godin, right, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico de Madrid and Levante at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain on Saturday, Dec. 21. (AP)

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