Thomas runs the midfield as Gameiro earns Atletico's win vs. Athletic
Atletico Madrid ensured the gap with La Liga leaders Barcelona remains at seven points after swatting aside Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.
The visitors offered little and it appeared only a matter of time before substitute Kevin Gameiro fired Los Rojiblancos ahead after some smart play from Antoine Griezmann. The No. 21 then turned provider as he fed Diego Costa to secure the points and keep the pressure on the Catalans just a fortnight before the two sides meet.
Gameiro looks to be playing with freedom and confidence and he showed signs of developing an understanding with Costa, which is good news moving forwards.
After seeing Barca get their fair share of refereeing decisions on Saturday, Atleti were once again ignored by the officials. The club are without a penalty in La Liga this season and were denied a stone-waller as Costa was scythed down.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Diego Simeone's substitutes came up trumps, with Gameiro changing the game. Also deserves credit for giving Jose Gimenez and Lucas Hernandez prolonged runs in the side.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jan Oblak, 6 -- Almost got himself in a right mess when he came out to intercept a through ball but just about sorted his feet out before he could be tackled. Untroubled apart from that.
DF Sime Vrsaljko, 6 -- A couple of excellent recovery tackles at the back post. Not as involved as Filipe Luis going forwards, but always offered himself as an outlet.
DF Jose Maria Gimenez, 7 -- Was not overly troubled in a defensive sense, however did all that was required with the minimum of fuss. Fired just wide from a free kick at the other end.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 6 -- Took a nasty blow in a coming together with Inaki Williams and had to be taken off at the break. Fingers crossed it was precautionary.
DF Filipe Luis, 8 -- Tireless up and down the left-hand flank. All of Los Colchoneros attacks went through him and his quick thinking ultimately led to the opener.
MF Koke, 6 -- Worked hard on and off the ball but looked tired after his Europa League exploits on Thursday. Hooked with half an hour to go.
MF Thomas Partey, 9 -- Brilliant. Absolutely everywhere in the middle of the park, breaking up play and controlling things. There was a period in the second half when he appeared to make five interceptions in as many minutes. The best player on the park.
MF Saul Niguez, 7 -- Showed bravery to steal the ball in the build up to Gameiro's goal. Much more direct and appears to have taken confidence from him midweek goal.
MF Angel Correa, 6 -- Not one that will live long in the memory for the Argentine. Could not get into the game and -- worryingly from his point of view -- the side looked better without him on the pitch.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 7 -- Had been guilty of holding onto the ball for too long at times, however picked his pass perfectly for Gameiro's goal.
FW Diego Costa, 8 -- Everything you expect from the striker. Should've had a penalty -- possibly two -- and was booked as he got frustrated and looked to be a walking red card before showing wonderful composure to finish and seal the points.
DF Diego Godin, 7 -- Headed just over from a corner. Will rarely have more comfortable games from a defensive standpoint.
FW Kevin Gameiro, 8 -- His introduction changed the game. Great composure to fire his side ahead before sliding through a perfect through ball to Costa for his goal.
MF Gabi, 6 -- Brought on to help shore things up in the middle of the park.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.