Barcelona, Spain, Oct 31: Levante's unexpected stay at the top of the Spanish league standings came to an abrupt end Sunday as the unheralded club was brought back to earth with a 2-0 loss at 10-man Osasuna.
The surprise pacesetter's first defeat of the season left it two points behind leader Real Madrid and one point behind defending champion Barcelona after 10 games.
Levante, which has the smallest budget in Spain's first division, had ridden a club-record run of seven straight wins sparked by a 1-0 upset of Madrid to spend the past two rounds atop the table for the first time in the club's 102-year history.
But Alvaro Cejudo and Juan “Nino” Martinez scored in the first half, and Osasuna held firm after Cejudo was sent off with his second yellow card in the 59th.
“When you win, it's difficult to believe that you are ever going to lose,” Levante's first-year coach Juan Ignacio Martinez said. “It is true that we were on a good run, but we knew that we were facing a tough game.”
Elsewhere, striker Adrian Lopez scored once in each half to lead Atletico Madrid to a 3-1 win over Zaragoza, while Malaga beat Espanyol 2-1 to end a three-game losing streak.
Racing Santander edged visiting Real Betis 1-0 for its first win of the season just two days after its board resigned, and Athletic Bilbao drew 1-1 at Sporting Gijon to stay undefeated in six Spanish league games.
Levante started strongly with striker Arouna Kone drawing a save from Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez in the ninth and coming close with a header five minutes later.
The visitors continued to attack but Osasuna almost went ahead in the 17th when Cejudo used his pace to go down the right side, only for Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munua to get enough of his strike to send it wide.
Where other adversaries had failed, Osasuna soon succeeded in disrupting Levante's attack in its half, and its pressure paid off with a pair of goals before halftime.
Cejudo broke through in the 40th when he skirted across the edge of the area before unleashing a low shot that caught Munua out of position after taking a deflection off a defender.
Nino then doubled the hosts' advantage four minutes later when he directed in a loose ball that the Levante defense failed to clear from its area.
“The two goals boosted us and made them play in a way they're not accustomed to,” Osasuna coach Jose Mendilibar said, referring to Levante having to abandon its normal counterattacking style.
Levante added striker Carlos Aranda to try to press its numerical advantage after Cejudo was sent off for a tackle on Jose Barkero. Cejudo had already received a yellow card for removing his shirt in his goal celebration.
Ruben Suarez, who hit a winning free kick for in added time on Wednesday, grazed the side netting with a bending free kick in the 67th, but Osasuna packed its area to remain undefeated at Reyno de Navarra stadium this season.
In the Spanish capital, Adrian flicked in Arda Turan's cross for Atletico's 19th-minute opener before Alvaro Dominguez headed in a free kick redirected by fellow defender Diego Godin in a well-executed set piece to double the hosts' lead in the 31st.
Adrian fired in Filipe Luis' back pass to cap Atletico's first win in six league games in the 75th before Helder Postiga grabbed a consolation goal for Zaragoza in its third successive defeat.
“We have dominated a lot of games without knowing how to win, and today we needed a victory and had the good fortune to score early,” said Adrian, who helped Spain win the European Under-21 Championship this summer.
At La Rosaleda stadium, Venezuela striker Jose Rondon put Malaga ahead five minutes in before Alvaro Vazquez equalized for Espanyol a minute before halftime.
Both teams enjoyed scoring chances until Espanyol midfielder Ndri Romaric was whistled for a disputed hand ball in the area, and Apono Galdeano converted the resulting penalty for the 73rd-minute winner.
Real Madrid edged Real Sociedad 1-0 to move top of the table on Saturday, while Barcelona kept pace after thrashing Mallorca 5-0 thanks to Lionel Messi's hat trick.
Also, Valencia beat bottom-table Getafe 3-1 to move into fourth place, two points behind crosstown rival Levante.
Villarreal downed Rayo Vallecano 2-0 for its second win in all competitions.
Sevilla tries to remain undefeated as it hosts last-place Granada on Monday.