Antoine Griezmann scored a dramatic winner with two minutes remaining as Atletico Madrid salvaged a 2-1 comeback victory over Real Sociedad in LaLiga.
The France international did not celebrate against his former club as Atletico continued their unbeaten start to the league season and closed the deficit to Barcelona to six points after the leaders drew 2-2 with Celta Vigo earlier on Saturday.
Willian Jose scored his seventh league goal of the season with a first-half penalty as Real threatened a shock victory.
But Filipe Luis responded after the break by netting for the first time since April as Atletico’s club-record beginning to a LaLiga campaign progressed to 14 matches without defeat.
An inspired goalkeeping performance from Geronimo Rulli looked like it would deny Atleti a winner until Griemzann bundled in from close range in the final moments, giving the in-form hosts a fifth win in six matches across all competitions.
Real sit seventh, 11 points behind Atletico, after a run of only one win in six league games.
Atletico squandered an early chance when Kevin Gameiro broke the offside trap but took too long to pull the trigger, eventually opting to pass to Griezmann in a worse position.
Real were next to threaten when Thomas Partey, playing at right-back, lost possession in a dangerous area, allowing Xabi Prieto to set up Willian Jose, who could only blaze his left-footed strike over from 12 yards.
Willian Jose turned creator when his cross found Prieto at the far post in the visitors’ next attack, but a combination of goalkeeper Jan Oblak and a backtracking Filipe Luis denied the Real captain.
The visitors were on top and their spot-kick was awarded when Mikel Oyarzabal latched on to David Zurutuza’s throughball and attempted to round Oblak, who was adjudged to have fouled the winger.
Willian Jose took the 29th-minute penalty and drilled his effort past Oblak, the keeper guessing the wrong way.
Gameiro and Gabi presented Angel Correa with two superb opportunities in quick succession to bring Atletico level before half-time, but away shot-stopper Rulli saved with his legs on both occasions to frustrate the hosts.
Correa’s woes continued after the break when, having been provided a glorious chance by a passing move that finished with Koke playing him in, he somehow skied his close-range finish with Rulli on the way down and almost the whole goal to aim at.
There was more frustration for the hosts when Griezmann volleyed into the top corner only for an offside flag to deny him, while the France international had another effort saved soon after, as did Koke.
Atletico got a deserved equaliser after 63 minutes when Saul Niguez’s deep cross found Filipe Luis and the full-back turned inside Prieto and lashed an accurate finish into the far corner with his weaker right foot from 12 yards.
Prieto collected Oyarzabal’s delivery and fired over from a good chance at the other end, but Atletico were dominant after the break and only more heroics from a diving Rulli denied Griezmann from heading in.
Diego Simeone brought on Yannick Carrasco and Fernando Torres as he searched for a winner, with Rulli keeping out an acrobatic effort from the latter shortly after his arrival, while Zurutuza was off-target with a free header for Real as the match entered its closing stages.
It looked like there would be no winner for either side until Saul’s looping, deflected header led to a sliding Griezmann converting from a yard out at the far post for his fourth goal in three games in all competitions, delighting the Wanda Metropolitano crowd.
Key Opta facts:
– Atletico Madrid have equalled their longest ever unbeaten run in LaLiga (W11 D7), recorded twice previously (18 in 1991 and 1941).
– Atletico have won four points in the last five minutes of matches, the most for a team in this period in LaLiga this season.
– Geronimo Rulli made eight saves, the most for a keeper versus Atletico in LaLiga this term.
– Jan Oblak has conceded his first LaLiga penalty as an Atletico player.