Kevin Gameiro came off the bench to score a hat-trick in the space of five minutes to fire Atletico Madrid to a 4-1 win over struggling Sporting Gijon in La Liga on Saturday that kept them fourth in the standings.
Yannick Carrasco had given Atletico the lead 12 seconds into the second half but Sergio Alvarez gave the impressive home side a deserved equaliser in the 49th minute.
Sporting continued to cause Diego Simeone’s side problems after drawing level and Alvarez missed a gilt-edged chance to put them ahead when he sent a half-volley over the bar from close range.
For the second week in a row, however, Atletico dug deep to rescue the points from an unconvincing display.
Antoine Griezmann had a goal harshly ruled out for offside but laid on the pass for Gameiro’s first strike, the former Sevilla player calmly rounding Ivan Cuellar to put Atletico ahead in the 80th minute.
Gameiro ruthlessly killed off Sporting with two quick-fire strikes, latching on to a pass from Thomas Partey to score in the 81st minute and taking advantage of another through ball from Griezmann to complete his treble.
The Frenchman is the first Atletico player to score a hat-trick in the league as a substitute.
Later on Saturday, La Liga leaders Real Madrid can open up a four-point lead over second-placed Barcelona when they host Espanyol while third-placed Sevilla entertain Eibar.