Luis Suarez was the hero as LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid overcame Eibar 2-1 thanks to the Uruguay striker's late penalty. (More Football News)
Suarez had struck his 10th league goal of the season in the 40th minute of Thursday's contest, restoring parity after Eibar had taken an early lead through an unlikely source.
With Yannick Carrasco penalised for bundling into Yoshinori Muto, it was Eibar goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic who confidently converted the resultant spot-kick.
Yet Dmitrovic could not save a penalty at the other end, Suarez chipping home to secure a somewhat undeserved victory after he was felled needlessly by Anaitz Arbilla.
For a player who had never previously scored a senior goal, Dmitrovic showed little hesitation in grabbing the ball after Carrasco was adjudged to have fouled Muto.
His confidence was not misplaced, the goalkeeper calmly sending counterpart Jan Oblak the wrong way with a cool left-footed finish.
2003 - @the_mitrovic1 is the first keeper to score in @LaLigaEN since Dani Aranzubia for Deportivo in Almería in February 2011, the first one from penalty spot since Nacho González for Las Palmas vs Athletic Club in March 2003. Personality@SDEibarEN #EibarAtleti #Atleti pic.twitter.com/5JYX1QVZpB— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 21, 2021
Dmitrovic was almost embarrassed 11 minutes later when he struggled to collect a looping ball on his line, though Stefan Savic's foul spared his blushes, before Angel Correa hit the crossbar with a wicked volley.
Yet Atleti did hit back before the break, Suarez thumping in from a tight angle following Sergio Alvarez's mistake to bring up his 11th LaLiga goal against Eibar.
Diego Simeone made a double change at half-time – Joao Felix and Lucas Torreira introduced – though Kike Garcia might have restored Eibar's lead if not for Oblak's brave lunge.
Atleti finally gained a foothold after Pedro Bigas headed over from close range, though it looked like Dmitrovic's save from Joao Felix would be enough to earn Eibar a point.
It was not to be, however, with Arbilla's clumsy tackle on Suarez handing the former Barcelona star a chance to wrap up the win – an opportunity he took in typically composed fashion.
What does it mean? Mind the gap in Madrid
Real Madrid crashed out of the Copa del Rey this week and now find themselves seven points behind their city rivals having played a game more than Simeone's team.
Atleti were far from at their best, with three of their four attempts on target coming in the 85th minute or later, yet they ultimately did just enough to extend their winning run to six league games.
Dmitrovic makes a name for himself
If you are going to take a penalty as a goalkeeper, you better not miss – especially against the league leaders.
Dmitrovic showed nerves of steel to dispatch his spot-kick beyond Oblak, and in doing so became the first goalkeeper to score in LaLiga since February 2011, and the first to net a penalty since Nacho Gonzalez did so for Las Palmas in March 2003.
Suarez propelling Atleti to the title?
If Atleti are to go on and capitalise on their position, then it will surely be veteran campaigner and serial title-winner Suarez who will by and large be responsible.
He is now on 11 league goals for the campaign, while he has registered 12 LaLiga strikes against Eibar, more than he has managed against any other team.
Atleti welcome Valencia to the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday, while Eibar visit Celta Vigo.
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