Kevin Gameiro came off the bench to score and create Atletico Madrid's goals as Diego Simeone's men maintained the pressure on LaLiga leaders Barcelona with a battling 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Barca won at Eibar on Saturday to build their cushion back up to 10 points after Atletico had reduced the deficit thanks to successive draws from the Catalan giants.
An out-of-form Athletic side had frustrated the hosts for large periods at the Wanda Metropolitano and seemingly looked set to hold Atletico to a goalless draw.
It was down to Gameiro to earn Atletico their fifth straight win in all competitions, the forward drilling a shot into the bottom corner after being set up by fellow Frenchman Antoine Griezmann.
Gameiro then set up Diego Costa to mark his latest return from injury with a goal, wrapping up the points with 11 minutes to go, beating Kepa Arrizabalaga at the goalkeeper's near post.
Athletic are now winless in six games and, after they failed to create a clear chance in the game, Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak recorded his 16th LaLiga clean sheet of the season, putting him top of the charts for Europe's top-five leagues.
Atleti blew Copenhagen away 4-1 in the Europa League on Thursday but took until the 14th minute to record the first effort of note, Jose Gimenez directing Griezmann's free-kick wide at full stretch.
The hosts should have had a penalty, however, Unai Nunez losing his footing and bringing down Costa, only for referee Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez to wave away strong appeals.
Athletic failed to score in their last two LaLiga games and, shorn of the attacking threats posed by suspended duo Aritz Aduriz and Raul Garcia, they failed to record a shot on target in the first half, with Atleti having also failed to work Kepa Arrizabalaga.
22 - Atletico have had a clean sheet at half-time in 22 La Liga games this season, more than any other side in the top five European leagues. Fortress. pic.twitter.com/SfZlMu21PE— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 18, 2018
Costa went to ground again immediately after the restart but the referee decided a touch in the back from defender Nunez was not enough to send the striker crashing to the turf.
The Spain striker recorded the first shot on target of the match after 50 minutes, finding space in the box to volley Sime Vrsaljko's cross at goal, but Kepa saved easily to his left.
Atletico were gradually finding more space but Costa headed over, Kepa was not troubled by Angel Correa's ambitious 30-yarder and Griezmann fired wildly off-target.
Simeone turned to Gameiro to provide more spark and the striker scored within eight minutes of his introduction for the out-of-sorts Koke.
Atletico's speed of thought resulted in an overload on the right wing after Athletic stopped in expectation of winning a free-kick, with Griezmann timing and weighting the pass out to the unmarked Gameiro perfectly for his compatriot to take a touch and rifle a low shot across Kepa.
And with Athletic leaving too many gaps at the back, Gameiro slipped Costa through on goal to wrongfoot Kepa and ensure Atletico keep LaLiga's title race very much alive.
Key Opta stats:
- Griezmann has assisted the last three Gameiro's goals in LaLiga.
- Since his return to Atletico, Diego Costa has been involved in six goals in his eight games in all competitions (four goals and two assists).
- Atletico have kept clean sheets in 16 games in LaLiga this season, more than any other team in the top 5 European Leagues (equal to Juventus).
- Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in their last 10 LaLiga games against Athletic Club (W8 D2), their longest ever run without defeat against them in the top flight.
- Diego Simeone has won 13 games as a manager against Athletic in all competitions, more than he has against any other opponent as Atletico's boss.
22 de septiembre 2018
|Cardinals keep pace in wildcard race with win over Giants|
|Djokovic hits Federer, pair lose in doubles at Laver Cup|
|Nowitzki likely to come off bench for Mavericks in 21st season|
|Red Wings´ Green battling ´virus that attacked his liver´|
|They said I couldn´t score goals – Ibrahimovic hits back at early critics|
|Slater charged, set to miss Grand Final|
|Rose not changing approach alongside Woods|
|Woods ready to ´hang in there´ at East Lake|
|Shaqiri´s time will come at Liverpool – Klopp|
|Richarlison: I used to copy some of Neymar´s haircuts|
|Brady says Gordon is ´really eager to get in there´ despite limited practice|
|NBA changes clock-reset, ´clear path´ foul rules|
|Tigers´ Martinez will play final game on Saturday before retiring|
|Sanchez to start for Man United – Mourinho|
|Speight saves Ulster in thrilling Cheetahs draw|
|Simmonds at the double as Chiefs stay perfect|
|Woods, Rose share Tour Championship lead|
|Ice-cool Shoaib denies Afghanistan in final over|
|CAF Champions League Review: Wydad Casablanca out as TP Mazembe pay penalty|
21 de septiembre 2018
|Eden inspires rout as Castleford book Wigan semi-final|
|Thiem & Wawrinka reach St. Petersburg semi-finals|
|No change to Aguero selection despite new contract, warns Guardiola|
|Woods and Rose share Tour Championship lead|
|Wigan Athletic 1 Bristol City 0: Three on the trot for improving Latics|
|Josh Rosen will play ´when time is right,´ Cardinals GM says|
|Eagles RBs Ajayi & Sproles out Sunday v Colts|
|Ronaldo looking forward after Champions League red card - Alex Sandro|
|Rangers fire manager Jeff Banister after four seasons|
|Inter captain Icardi can improve - Spalletti|
|Jadeja and Rohit shine as India maintain 100 per cent record|
|Fisher shares lead in Vilamoura after record-breaking 59|
|Messi the best I´ve seen - Lamela|
|Silva demands end to Gomes ´rumours´ and targets early October return|
|Milner over Pogba, says Souness|
|Brazil call up Malcom, drop Thiago Silva and Willian|
|Denly thought Test chance may never come|
|Benitez tells FA to examine Zaha red card comments|
|Bjorn unsure of future after Ryder Cup|
|Tebas still optimistic over Girona-Barcelona in Miami despite RFEF setback|
|Emery promises more chances for frustrated Leno|
|Cahill considering Chelsea departure in January|
|Kaepernick to receive Harvard´s highest honour in African, African-American studies|
|Defending champion Ostapenko dumped out of Korea Open|
|Mourinho is an inspiration - Nuno|
|Witty Wilson ´delighted´ to be praised for Fisher heroics while sitting on couch|
|Burns, Denly and Stone in England squad for Sri Lanka Tests|
|Aspas reveals interest from Real Madrid, Atletico|
|Arsenal´s Mkhitaryan a doubt for Everton match|
|Klopp demands Liverpool ´stay angry´ against Southampton|
|Long-serving Tabarez signs four-year Uruguay extension|
|Injured Mendy ruled out of Cardiff trip|
|Douglas Costa out up to a month with ankle & thigh injuries|
|Slater shrugs off Feki hit amid Grand Final suspension concerns|
|Crisis? What crisis? Klopp unconcerned by Salah form|
|I didn´t convince him, he decided for himself - Guardiola says thanks to Aguero|
|Leno frustrated by Arsenal bench role|
|Joshua almost 2st heavier than Povetkin for Wembley bout|
|From salvation to the record books - Fisher revels in European Tour´s first 59|
|Lahm says Germany best for Euro 2024 as UEFA publishes report|
|Lopetegui backs Modric over Ronaldo for individual prizes|
|Goretzka to start against former club Schalke, confirms Kovac|
|Fisher shoots first 59 in European Tour history|
|Simeone defends Ronaldo after controversial Champions League red|
|Slater sees Storm into Grand Final, awaits fate over ´shoulder charge´|
|Hogg to miss Scotland´s November Tests following ankle surgery|
|Osaka through as Azarenka and Garcia crash out|
|Burgess weighing up legal options after being cleared in Rabbitohs investigation|
|Uncapped Cottrell and Gordon named in Wallabies squad|
|He´s done fantastic work - Mourinho hails Wolves boss Nuno|
|Joshua v Povetkin: No need for fireworks on AJ´s Wembley return|