September 2, 2019 / 4:35 AM / 15 days ago

Soccer: Partey time as Atletico recover to seal third win

MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid maintained their perfect start to the La Liga season by staging a remarkable comeback from two goals down to beat Eibar 3-2 at home on Sunday thanks to a 90th-minute strike from midfielder Thomas Partey.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Atletico Madrid v Eibar - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - September 1, 2019 Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa, Koke and team mates celebrate after the match REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

Diego Simeone’s side had kept clean sheets in their opening two games but fell behind in the seventh minute to a headed goal from 35-year-old striker Charles and defender Anaitz Arbilla doubled Eibar’s lead with a deflected effort in the 19th.

Atleti’s 126 million-euro signing Joao Felix pulled the home side back into contention in the 27th minute by scoring his first La Liga goal for the club, side-footing a simple pass from strike partner Diego Costa into the net from close range.

Vitolo, the match-winner last week at Leganes, grabbed the equaliser early in the second half with a cool finish into the bottom corner and Costa had a strike ruled out for offside.

But Partey snatched a winner with a late show of strength and determination to fight off two defenders in the box before smashing the ball into the net.

“The most important thing about today is that we came back from a tough start, we were feeling some very strange sensations in the first 20 minutes,” said Atletico coach Simeone.

Atletico are the only team in the Spanish top flight to have won all three of their games and they lead the La Liga standings with nine points, five more than last year’s champions Barcelona.

The last time Atletico won their opening three matches of a league campaign was in the 2013-14 season, when they went on to lift the La Liga title, but Simeone did not want to draw comparisons between that side and his current players.

“That team was very experienced, now we have some very young players, a lot of new faces and we have to construct a new team,” he added.

“We want to win, win again and then win some more. It’s not easy to say goodbye to eight players, to bring in eight new players and to continue competing and that’s what we’re doing. But we must stay calm because it’s going to be a long season.”

Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond

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