Borja Garces scored with almost the last kick of the game to secure a 1-1 draw for an underwhelming Atletico Madrid against Eibar at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.
The visitors looked like they had snatched maximum points after 87 minutes when Sergei Enrich prodded home from close range.
Substitute Garces – making his LaLiga debut – spared Diego Simeone’s blushes, though, lashing in from 15 yards, just moments after Diego Godin had thundered a header against the crossbar.
Their failure to adequately bounce back from defeat to Celta Vigo before the international break means that Simeone’s side face the prospect of falling seven points behind early pacesetters Barcelona and Real Madrid by the end of the weekend.
After a sluggish start, in which Eibar’s Jose Angel clipped the crossbar with a powerful half-volley, the hosts sparked into life – only to find Marko Dmitrovic in inspired form.
First, Antoine Griezmann’s low effort was kept out by the Serbian before he superbly pawed away Saul Niguez’s downward header and blocked Godin’s close-range drive in quick succession.
Dmitrovic was in action again just after the restart, tipping over Godin’s header and repelling Diego Costa’s drive within the space of a minute.
An unmarked Koke then inexplicably failed to connect with the ball just four yards out, while Eibar once again hit the woodwork, this time Anaitz Arbilla thundering a half-volley against the crossbar from 30 yards.
The visitors thought they had snatched a memorable win three minutes from time when Enrich took advantage of a deflection into his path to clip past Jan Oblak.
Atleti’s hopes of a dramatic leveller looked to be over when Godin’s header crashed back off the bar in stoppage time, but 19-year-old Garces had other ideas.
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) September 15, 2018
What it means: Simeone to freshen up attack?
Atleti have never been particularly prolific, but just three goals in four LaLiga games for his side might well force Simeone to shake up the Griezmann-Costa axis. A potential seven-point gap to the league summit means there’s no room for sentiment – Atleti need to wake up.
Pat on the back: Dmitrovic unbeatable…almost
Eibar’s goalkeeper has come along since his time at Charlton Athletic two years ago, looking more than comfortable on the LaLiga stage. The 26-year-old made a string of fine saves to frustrate Atleti’s attackers before suffering late heartbreak.
Boot up the backside: Costa’s torrid run continues
The former Chelsea striker looks a shadow of his former self and has now gone a whopping 13 consecutive LaLiga games without scoring – his longest drought in the competition since April 2011.
Atletico kick off their Champions League campaign on Tuesday with a visit to Monaco before returning to LaLiga action against Getafe on Saturday. Eibar, meanwhile, welcome Leganes to the Ipurua in a week’s time.
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