A 99th minute strike from Thomas Lemar secured victory for Atletico over Espanyol who led for much of the contest.
Raul de Tomas' looping header from Adrian Embarba's corner gave Espanyol a deserved lead five minutes before the break and they looked like holding on for the upset of the la Liga season so far until ten minutes from time.
Half-time substitute Lemar was denied an equaliser in the 54th minute when he turned Marcos Llorente's cross home at the far post but Luis Suarez, who narrowly missed touching the ball at the near post, was ruled offside and interfering with play.
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Just when it appeared the capital club were running out of ideas, the belligerent Yannick Carrasco dribbled into the area then, after losing the ball, won it back and drilled home from a narrow angle.
A draw seemed a fair result but Lemar's one-two with Carrasco enabled the French international to get inside the box and produce a shot which Diego Lopez could only push against the ball upright from where it agonisingly fell into the net.
TALKING POINT - HOW MUCH INJURY TIME?
There cannot be anyone who was not surprised when they saw the fourth official show there would be 10 (TEN) minutes of play added on to the 90 minutes. There were a few pauses for injury, ten substitutions and a brief drinks break, but this addition to play seemed at least four minutes too long. Maybe the biggest compliment for Atletico is that wild talk of a conspiracy to aid them is abounding on social media, showing they truly have made the big two into a big three. The result was so harsh on Espanyol who put so much into the game and they would have secured a point from it, if there was any justice in the world.
MAN OF THE MATCH - LEMAR THOMAS (ATLETICO MADRID)
It is rare a substitute earns the man of the match award but it is much deserved in this instance. Atletico had a territorial and possession advantage in the first half but no zest in their play. This changed when Lemar was introduced and within moments he was close to scoring a curling effort when he drifted inside Leandro Cabrera and shot just wide of the far post.
He was also unlucky when his goal was disallowed, rightly, but if anything Suarez's involvement made his job scoring harder not easier. Then, when all had seemingly accepted a draw, he drove from the halfway line before linked with the also superb Yannick Carrasco and sealed the match.
Espanyol: Lopez 6; Gil 6, Calero 6, Cabrera 7, Pedrosa 6; Darder 7, Morlanes 6; Melendo 6, Vidal 6, Embarba 7; de Tomas 7.
Subs: Recasens 6, Bare 6, Moron 6, Ribaudo 6, Dimata 6.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 7; Trippier 5, Savic 6, Felipe 6, Hermoso 6; Llorente 7, Koke 6, Carrasco 8, Correa 7, Griezmann 5, Suarez 6.
Subs: Lemar 9*, Kondogbia 7, Lodi 7, Felix 6, Cunha 6.
40' GOAL FOR ESPANYOL! It has been coming. Raul de Tomas meets the corner at the front post and directs a looping header inside the far corner.
54' GOAL FOR ATLETICO! It's Lemar with it. A fine low cross from the right flank from Llorente on the right flank is just ahead of Suarez but Lemar running to the back post guides the ball into the roof of the net.
56' DISALLOWED! A controversial call but probably the right one. Suarez's head just ahead of the last defender and after being so close to the ball the referee probably has to make that decision.
80' GOAL FOR ATLETICO! Carrasco dribbled into a cul de sac in the box but then put in a great challenge on Ribauldo to win the ball back and drove it home from a narrow angle.
90+9' GOAL FOR ATLETICO! Lemar scores the winner. So cruel on Espanyol. He played a one-two with Carrasco and then fires a right-footed effort that the keeper can only parry the ball off the post and into the net.
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