Atletico Madrid go joint-top thanks to Antoine Griezmann winner
A thunderous strike from Antoine Griezmann saw Atletico Madrid come from behind and snatch a 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao to go joint-top of the Primera Division.
Aymeric Laporte had given the Basques the lead on the half hour mark but Saul Niguez headed the hosts level right before half-time, and Griezmann completed the comeback midway through the second half with a ferocious curling shot from 25 yards.
Diego Simeone's side join Barcelona at the top of the table on 35 points and will go three points clear next week if they beat Malaga while Barca are absent from league action at the Club World Cup in Japan.
Former Atletico servant Raul Garcia was given a hero's reception before kick off on his return to the Vicente Calderon but by the end the home fans enjoyed a carnival atmosphere to toast a long-awaited return to the league's summit.
Simeone's side made a good start, pressing Athletic high up the pitch and creating the first chances, Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco crashing a shot over the bar and Saul firing weakly at Gorka Iraizoz.
Luciano Vietto thought he had put the hosts ahead on 18 minutes when he latched onto a pass to arrow into the far corner, but he was correctly ruled offside.
The Basques soon managed to contain the threat though and began putting their own pressure on. Garcia tested Jan Oblak and then Aritz Aduriz forced the Slovenian to tip his shot over the bar, winning a corner.
Set pieces are normally Atletico's forte but they were caught napping by Bilbao and Laporte ghosted away from his marker to meet the cross at the far post and tap in.
The visitors continued to cause problems but Atletico rallied as half-time approached, riled by the time wasting of Iraizoz.
Ferreira-Carrasco tried to catch the goalkeeper out with a quick-fire shot from outside the area which won Atletico a corner. And after giving away the goal from a corner, it was their chance to strike back and they duly did so, Saul rising at the near post to head in Koke's cross.
The hosts could have gone behind again early in the second period when Aduriz was released into the area with just Oblak to beat, but the ever-attentive Slovenian rushed off his line to block the shot with his legs.
Even when they were not attacking, Athletic were proving tough opponents but Atletico needed a win to go joint-top, and Simeone was as animated as ever on the touchline, controlling any balls that went out his side to quickly give them back to his team, and urging the Calderon faithful to roar their troops on.
They responded to his call, and it was not long before the players did too. Atleti's forwards surrounded their opponents' final third, waiting to pounce on any slip, which came when Mikel Rico's misplaced pass headed towards Griezmann on the edge of the area.
The Frenchman knew instantly what to do, wrapping his left foot round the ball and sending it curling and dipping into the near corner. Athletic are the former Real Sociedad forward's favourite victims, but his seventh goal in 11 matches against Bilbao was surely his finest, and arguably his most important.