Atletico Madrid kept their hopes for top position alive after a hard-fought victory against Athletic Bilbao at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.Also Read - Real Madrid Cruise to Win; Barca Held in Granada

A Diego Godin winner at stoppage time saw Diego Simeone’s men attain victory after coming from behind in the La Liga fixture. Also Read - La Liga: Real Madrid Beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 to End The Year on a High

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. Also Read - UEFA Champions League: Draw Declared Null and Void Following Technical Glitch; To be Re-Done at 15:00 CET

Atletico 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 provided by Athletico’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 of 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 Atletico 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.

(IANS Inputs)