With three goals in quick succession, Athletic Bilbao beat Atlético on their Basque home ground.
The visitors rued their missed chances from the first half, but had to conclude that they were beaten fair and square by a motivated Bilbao side.
Gregorio Manzano put out what seems to be Atlético’s strongest XI, with Reyes and Gabi returning to the starting line-up.
In defence, the coach opted for Álvaro Domínguez, but the centre back was replaced by Diego Godín after apparently picking up an injury during the warm-up.
The game in the Cathedral of Spanish football was a great one for neutral fans, with both sides not holding back to get an early lead.
Atlético, and Filipe particularly, were lucky not to concede when the Brazilian left back slipped up on the edge of the box. Markel Susaeta was through on goal before losing the ball to Godín, who bungled the winger over from behind, just carefully enough not to concede a penalty kick.
At the other end Reyes fired a warning shot, while Fernando Llorente saw his shot blocked by Miranda.
The biggest opportunities in the opening period were for Atleti, with Falcao coming very close to scoring and Filipe shooting just wide.
The teams were unable to string multiple passes together, with both sides pressuring aggressively in midfield. Referee Teixeira Vitienes allowed most challenges, which stimulated the spectacularly high pace of the game.
Shortly before the break Thibaut Courtois made a great save to deny Óscar De Marcos in a 1-on-1 situation. The level-headed 19-year-old made a calm impression in the hostile environment of the San Mamés-stadium.
At the start of the second half Athletic pushed Atleti with their backs against the wall and Marcelo Bielsa showed attacking intent by bringing on Ánder Herrera for defensive midfielder Javi Martínez.
A cross swung in from the left side by Aurtenetxe was headed wide by De Marcos, who kept popping up in front of goal without anyone to mark him.
In the 67th minute the Lion King, Fernando Llorente, scored the goal the home side deserved. He received the ball inside the box and avoided Assunção’s challenge, before toe-poking the ball past Courtois. The goalkeeper was without a chance after the shot took a deflection from Filipe.
Llorente then crushed Atlético’s hope of a comeback by immediately scoring a second. He was completely unchallenged when a cross came in from the right, and the number 9 headed home from close range to make it 2-0.
The nightmare wasn’t quite over for the Colchoneros yet. Substitute Gaizka Toquero scored his side’s third within ten minutes by flicking on Herrera’s inviting free kick.
Diego attempted to strike back, but his low shot was well saved by Iraizoz.
After the defeat in Bilbao, it has now been seven games since Atlético last won, while the team still haven’t managed to score a single goal in an away game in the league this season.
The result raises doubts about Gregorio Manzano’s future at the club. The coach will also have to deal with José Antonio Reyes, who was visibly frustrated after being taken off by ‘Goyo’.
The only thing that can prevent a crisis is a win our next league game. On Sunday, we host Real Zaragoza in what might be Manzano’s last game in charge.
Line-up: Courtois; Sílvio, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Gabi, Assunção, Diego (“81 Koke); Reyes (“58 Salvio), Falcao and Arda Turan (“72 Pizzi).
Goals: 1-0 Llorente (“67); 2-0 Llorente (“71); 3-0 Toquero (“75)