Antoine Griezmann bursts into the spotlight as Atletico downs Bilbao


Atletico newcomer Antoine Griezmann buried three goals en route to Atletico Madrid’s come-from-behind 4-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao.

Mikel Moreno’s blasted header put Bilbao up 1-0 in the 17th minute; then, mere seconds into the second half, it was Griezmann on the scoring end, burying a close-range effort from Juanfran’s cross.

After Raul Garcia manage to convert a PK that was caused by Tiago’s collapse upon minimal contact from Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose, Griezmann managed to get all alone, one-on-one with goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz. Taking advantage of this opportunity, he slotted home a rolling finish in the 73rd minute.

Greizmann’s final goal arrived six minutes later, a simple tap-in from the outskirts of the five-yard box that clinched the result.

The Frenchman had caught everyone’s attention, including Atletico boss Diego Simeone.

“Griezmann was the player we needed in the team. He was different, and his work every day has been noticed,” Simeone said to reporters.

This summer, the 23-year-old switched to Atletico from Real Sociedad, where he scored 20 goals in a breakout 2013-14 season, for a fee around £24 million ($37.55 million).

He promptly signed a six-year contract with the Mattressers, and it was clear there were high expectations stemming from his apparent attacking capabilities. Months into this season, some began to doubt if Atletico had made the right move, due to Griezmann’s lack of consistency during the little playing time he was offered.

The suspensions of Koke and Mario Mandzukic in this most recent competition opened up a short-term window for someone to step up.

And Griezmann definitely filled that role in his first full 90 minutes as an Atletico starter.

The three points gained in this match positioned Simeone’s squad only four points away from league leaders Real Madrid, and in ensuing games, the Argentine manager may look to further utilize the talented winger’s production.