Diego Simeone was satisfied with his side’s performance after Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon.
Atletico needed to win to move level on points with La Liga leaders Barcelona, but fell behind to Aymeric Laporte’s goal in the first half.
Saul Niguez equalised with a header shortly before half-time and Antoine Griezmann smashed in a wonderful winner on 67 minutes to give Simeone’s men an eighth consecutive victory in all competitions.
“It was a very hard match, it’s not easy when you start one down,” Simeone said.
“In the second half we were much closer to [producing] the performance [we needed] to win the game.
“We knew that today [there] would be much direct play and it would be a hard match. We improved in the second half and deserved to win.”
Up next for Simeone’s side will be Reus Deportiu in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey round of 32 on Thursday.
“Now it’s time to prepare for the match against Reus and to win the qualifying round,” Simeone said.
Goal-scorer Saul described match-winner Griezmann as “unique” after the France international scored his 13th goal of the season, a brilliant curling finish.
He added: “Athletic Bilbao made it very difficult for us throughout the match, but we have taken three very important points.”