Alvaro Morata scored his third goal in as many games but it was not enough for Atletico Madrid as they were hit by a stunning late equaliser on Tuesday in a 1-1 draw against Alaves.
Morata came off the bench at Mendizorrotza and his smart finish looked like it would prove the winner in a tight contest between two of La Liga’s most stubborn defences.
But Atletico missed chances to add a second and were punished in the 83rd minute as Lucas Perez beat Jan Oblak with a superb long-range strike to earn Alaves a hard-earned point.
Diego Simeone had hailed Oblak as the best goalkeeper in the world after Atleti beat Athletic Bilbao on Saturday but there was little the Slovenian could do about one of the goals of the season so far.
Yet Atletico will still lament two points dropped and a result that leaves them fourth in the table, a point behind surprise leaders Granada.
Diego Costa had been dropped against Bilbao but was restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Morata, despite the Spaniard scoring last weekend and hitting the winner against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League last week.
With a difficult trip to Sevilla to come on Saturday, Simeone rested other key players too, like Thomas Partey and Koke, both of whom came on in the second half, as well as Kieran Trippier.
Alaves had conceded only one goal in their five previous homes games this season and chances were almost non-existent in the first half.
Both teams showed more ambition in the second 45 minutes though as Joselu headed wide for Alaves and Atletico’s Renan Lodi saw a shot whistle past the far post.
Morata came on in the 60th minute and was welcomed with a crunching challenge by Victor Laguardia but the striker was not deterred and struck the opener 10 minutes later.
It was a brilliant passage of forward play as he chested down Oblak’s punt up-field, played a slick one-two with Angel Correa before sliding in a cool finish.
He should have made it two soon after but a poor backpass went unpunished and Correa was then denied by the foot of Fernando Pacheco after some excellent work by Thomas.
The slender advantage left Atletico vulnerable and Lucas delivered the game’s stand-out moment seven minutes from the end. Saul Niguez and Lodi might have made it more difficult for the 31-year-old to cut in from the right but Lucas made the most of the space.
His stinging shot from 25 yards beat the right hand of Oblak and soared into the top corner.