MADRID – A header in the second-half stoppage time by injured defender Diego Godin gave Atletico Madrid a come-from-behind 3-2 home victory Saturday night over Athletic Bilbao.
The Colchoneros came into the Matchday 12 contest at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium not having given up a single first-half goal this season in La Liga.
That changed, however, in the 36th minute, when Mikel San Jose received a cross and fired a shot toward the upper-right corner of the goal.
Atleti net minder Jan Oblak got a hand on it and deflected it off the post, but Iñaki Williams was there to boot the ball home as it bounced near the goal line.
The hosts managed to tie the score after the intermission on a remarkable blast from well outside the area by Thomas Partey in the 61st minute, when he took advantage of the space afforded him by Athletic’s defenders and beat net minder Iago Herrerin.
But the visitors, badly in need of a win to turn around a disappointing season, came right back and took the lead in the 64th minute when Williams notched his second goal of the night on a counter-attack play.
That score was doubly painful for Atletico because Godin injured his thigh on the play.
Even though the Uruguayan could only hobble around the field, head coach Diego Simeone left him in the game because he had already used up all of three his substitutions and instructed his defender to move up into attack.
Fifteen minutes later, midfielder Rodri leaped up alongside Godin to head home the 2-2 equalizer in the 80th minute off a corner kick by Thomas.
The Uruguayan defender then produced the game-winner on a close-range header in second-half stoppage time off a pass from star forward Antoine Griezmann.
Although Godin was initially ruled off-side, the video assistant referee (VAR) system overruled the call on the field to give Atleti a dramatic win.
“When Diego got hurt, his first gesture was to come off. Then I saw his intention to stay on, and it’s difficult to mark someone who’s standing still. What do you do? Do you mark him or not?” Simeone said afterward.
For the hosts, the win provisionally moves them ahead of Espanyol and Sevilla and into second place in the Spanish league with 23 points, one behind first-place FC Barcelona.
Godin, meanwhile, said afterward he believes he could be out for between 20 days and a month with his thigh injury.
The loss was a crushing one for 17th-place Athletic, a club that prides itself on never having been relegated but which has just 10 points through 12 games of the 38-game season and currently is just one spot above the three-team relegation zone.