Diego Godin scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Atletico Madrid came from behind to secure a 3-2 LaLiga win over Athletic Bilbao at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.
Diego Simeone’s men fell well short of the standards set in Tuesday’s Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund and were fortunate to escape with three points courtesy of some late heroics against a side who have won just once in the league this season.
Inaki Williams was the star of the show for the visitors, putting his side ahead with a simple tap-in after 36 minutes and then slotting home a second just after Thomas Partey had pulled Atleti level in the second half.
A surprise victory looked within their grasp, but Rodrigo’s header 10 minutes from time and Godin’s late intervention – awarded after a VAR review for possible offside – moved Simeone’s side up to second, a point behind leaders Barcelona.
The hosts’ first-half sluggishness was punished before the interval when Williams prodded home on the line after Jan Oblak had superbly tipped Mikel San Jose’s strike onto the underside of the crossbar.
Williams should have added a second shortly before the hour mark, but his low effort was thwarted down low to his right by Oblak.
The hosts pulled level after 61 minutes when Thomas’ stunning 30-yard strike fizzed past Iago Herrerin, Filipe Luis with the assist.
Their joy was short-lived, however, as Williams latched onto Iker Muniain’s pass three minutes later to break clear of the Atleti backline and clip past the onrushing Oblak.
Thomas then turned provider for Atleti’s leveller after 80 minutes, his cross turned in by Rodrigo, before Godin unleashed wild celebrations – after a short delay for a VAR review – by nodding in Antoine Griezmann’s flick on from close range one minute into added time.
What does it mean? Atleti do just enough
The feel-good factor of a stoppage-time winner will no doubt gloss over the fact that Atleti were poor against a side with only one win to their name this season. As it is, they are up to second and will remain there if Sunday’s clash between Sevilla and Espanyol ends in a draw.
Athletic, meanwhile, will be crestfallen, having come so close to a precious win and ultimately coming away with nothing. They remain in big trouble, just one point outside the relegation zone.
Williams makes his mark
The 24-year-old could not miss his first, tapping in from barely a yard, but showed superb pace and composure for his second to double his LaLiga tally for the season to four.
Costa’s woes continue
The former Chelsea striker looks a shadow of his former self in his second spell at Atletico. He offered little threat to the Athletic backline, which is hardly surprising given that he has now gone a whopping 18 games without a league goal. Costa failed to register a single shot before being replaced at half-time.
Key Opta facts:
– Atletico Madrid have now gone 11 LaLiga games in a row unbeaten against Athletic (W9 D2), their best run versus the Basque side in the competition.
– Athletic are winless in their last 11 league games (D7 L4) equalling their worst winless run in their history (11 between September and November 2005).
– Williams has scored all his last 14 league goals away from home. Indeed, 19 out of the 25 goals scored in his LaLiga career have been in away games.
– He is also the first player to score a brace at Wanda Metropolitano versus against Atletico in all competitions.
Simeone’s side have a mouth-watering home clash with Barcelona to look forward to after the international break on November 24. If Barca beat Real Betis on Sunday, the gap will be four points. Athletic host Getafe on November 25 as they look to kickstart their season.