The result means that Barcelona have to win 2-0 or 3-2 or better in their trip to play Getafe Sunday to recover the leadership, reports Xinhua.
Atletico were made to suffer more than expected after falling behind to an early goal from Andres Ivanschitz before Diego Godin scored a header midway through the first half.
Diego Costa's incredible scoring run continued two minutes after the break as he netted his 18th of the campaign, but Pedro Rios dragged Levante back into the game after 56 minutes.
It was not until the 13 minute from time that Costa scored the winning goal from the penalty spot to send Atletico top and send the fans in the Calderon into raptures.
The round of games kicked off with a minor surprise as Sevilla won 2-1 away to Villarreal, who would have moved above Athletic Club Bilbao with a win.
Cala put Sevilla ahead after 24 minutes and Carlos Bacca's recent run of goals continued when he doubled their lead with just under 20 minutes remaining and although Perbet pulled a goal back from the penalty spot with two minutes remaining, it was too little too late.
Real Sociedad took advantage of Villarreal's defeat and continue their climb up the table into fifth place thanks to a 3-1 win away to Granada.
Carlos Vela netted twice and Antoine Griezmann also scored for the on-form side from San Sebastian, whose first game in 2013 is the Basque derby at home to neighbours, Athletic Club Bilbao.
Piti scored a magnificent goal for Granada with a 30 effort that deserved to be more than just a consolation goal.
Finally Betis will go into the New Year rock bottom of the table after a 1-0 home defeat to Almeria.
Azeez's fourth minute shot took a huge deflection on its way into the back off the net and Betis created a lot of chances only to be denied by poor finishing and great goalkeeping by Esteban Suarez in the Almeria goal, although it should be added that Almeria, who climb out of the relegation zone with the win, also had chances to score more goals on the break.
The end of the game saw incredible scenes as the Betis fans cheered the players, who stayed in the middle of the pitch, despite the defeat with the majority of the players in tears at the support of their fans at a difficult time.
--IANS (Posted on 22-12-2013)