Marcos Llorente and Luis Suarez send Atletico Madrid six points clear at top of table
La Liga, Wanda Metropolitano - Atletico Madrid 2 (Llorente 45', Suarez P 51') Athletic Club 1 (Muniain 21')
Marcos Llorente of Athletic Club celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga Santander match between Atletico de Madrid and Athletic Club at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on March 10, 2021 in Madrid, Spain
Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Athletic Bilbao at the Wanda Metropolitan and open up a six-point lead at the top of La Liga.
This was Los Rojiblancos' game in hand over their rivals, but they fell behind in the 21st-minute when Inaki Williams crossed for Iker Muniain, whose fortuitous finish nestled in the corner.
Atleti had been desperately poor but drew level deep into stoppage-time at the end of the first-half. Athletic switched off defensively to allow Thomas Lemar free and his pinpoint cross was headed in by Marcos Llorente.
Marcos Llorente of Atletico Madrid celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the La Liga Santander match between Atletico de Madrid and Athletic Club at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on March 10, 2021 in Madrid, Spain
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Luis Suarez had been virtually anonymous in the opening half but came alive just after the interval to win a penalty having been upended by Unai Nunez and he confidently stroked home from the spot to give the hosts the lead.
It proved the winning goal for Atleti, who move six points clear of second-placed Barcelona, while Athletic Bilbao remain eighth. Next up for Diego Simeone's side is an away match with Getafe on Saturday evening.
TALKING POINT - Atleti and Suarez show nerves of steel in important win
The Uruguayan has been there and done it all in club football, so he had no need to panic when things weren't going his side's way. Suarez had cut an isolated figure as Atleti struggled offensively, but it only took one moment of magic for the 34-year-old to turn this game on its head, as he won a penalty with a clever run and quick footwork and converted confidently for his 18th goal of the season.
uis Suarez of Atletico de Madrid scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga Santander match between Atletico de Madrid and Athletic Club at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on March 10, 2021 in Madrid, Spain
Image credit: Getty Images
Atleti are going to need him at his best for the remaining 12 games if Simeone is to deliver the club's first league title since 2014.
They are well placed to do that after grinding out a crucial victory that gives them some breathing space at the top of the table. After a jittery run of form, this feels like a significant result.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid)
What a season Llorente is having. Simeone's decision to utlise him as a second striker has been a masterstroke and one that is clearly paying dividends. His intelligent movement was matched by a classy header to draw Atleti level and that set the tone for another supreme performance.
Marcos Llorente of Atletico Madrid celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the La Liga Santander match between Atletico de Madrid and Athletic Club at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on March 10, 2021 in Madrid, Spain.
21' - GOAL! Atletico Madrid 0-1 Athletic Bilbao (Iker Muniain): Atleti are behind on their big night! Williams is just onside as he runs onto a through ball down the right and he picks out Muniain in the middle, whose scuffed shot finds the corner of the net!
45'+ 2- GOAL! Atletico Madrid 1-1 Athletic Bilbao (Marcos Llorente): With the last touch of the first-half, Llorente heads Atleti level! What a goal this could be in the title race! Athletic Club switch off as Lemar runs free down the left, picking out Llorente with a pinpoint cross and he makes no mistake with his header.
50' - Penalty to Atleti! Suarez, who has been virtually anonymous up to now, is upended by Nunez inside the penalty area and the referee points to the spot!
52' - GOAL! Atletico Madrid 2-1 Athletic Bilbao (Luis Suarez, pen): Suarez steps up confidently and sends the goalkeeper the wrong way with a cool spot-kick that nestles in the left corner.
Atletico Madrid have earned 15 points thanks to 18 goals scored by Luis Suarez in La Liga this season, four more than any other player (Gerard Moreno, Lionel Messi and Youssef En-Nesyri, 11 each).
Joao Felix (20 years and 120 days) made his 50th appearance in La Liga, scoring 13 goals, becoming the third youngest striker to reach this milestone for Atletico Madrid, after Sergio Aguero (19y 162d – G13) and Fernando Torres (19y 310d - G25).