A last-gasp goal from Antoine Griezmann gave Atletico Madrid a dramatic 1-0 win over Sporting Gijon at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday.
The France international headed home in the third minute of stoppage time to rescue Diego Simeone’s men, who had struggled to create many opportunities following their Champions League trip to Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
The hosts had goalkeeper Jan Oblak to thank in the first half as he made a superb stop to deny on-loan Barcelona playmaker Alen Halilovic from opening the scoring.
Griezmann had come closest to finding a breakthrough, but he was left frustrated by an impressive double save from Sporting’s Ivan Cuellar before he made the difference with a winner at the death.
The victory moves Atletico up to third in La Liga as a result of Celta Vigo’s heavy defeat to Valencia on Saturday, with Simeone’s side four points adrift of the top after extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven games.
Simeone made four changes to his starting XI following the goalless stalemate at Astana, including the return of Jackson Martinez in attack in place of Fernando Torres.
Sporting almost took a surprise early lead when Jony carried the ball from the halfway line and shot wide of Oblak’s far post, before Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Tiago were off-target with efforts at the other end.
Atletico striker Martinez wanted a penalty when his cross cannoned against the right arm of Bernardo from close range, but referee Javier Estrada Fernandez was unmoved.
Sporting suffered a double blow by having to replace both Sergio Alvarez and Miguel Angel Guerrero due to injuries inside the first 25 minutes.
But it was still the visitors who created the best chance of the first half. A sweeping counterattack led to Jony’s cross from the left finding Halilovic and his goal-bound left-footed shot was brilliantly saved by a diving Oblak.
Atletico upped the tempo early in the second half. Gabi shot wide and Koke smashed a long-range attempt into the side netting before he was replaced by Angel Correa.
Griezmann was thwarted by Cuellar’s double save as the hosts finally created a big chance. The Frenchman’s initial shot from Carrasco’s cross was saved, before he reacted first to the rebound and sent a clever flick towards the other corner which the keeper was also equal to.
Sporting were not finished as an attacking force, though, with Oblak having to be at full stretch to push Jony’s left-footed drive over as both teams pressed for the vital breakthrough.
Diego Godin headed over from a Jesus Gamez long throw, but Griezmann’s two efforts had been shot-shy Atletico’s only attempts on target going into stoppage time.
Griezmann came to the rescue, though, as he latched on to a Godin flick-on to head past the onrushing Cuellar, sending Simeone wild on the touchline.