Simeone masterstroke pushed injured hero Godin up front

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno
The manager's decision to put the injured defender up front paid dividends as he scored a late winner to beat Athletic Bilbao

Atletico Madrid hero Diego Godin has revealed that a masterstroke from his manager paid off in a big way on Saturday.

Diego Simeone instructed the defender to play up front for the closing stages of their dramatic 3-2 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, primarily because the 32-year-old was injured.

Defender Godin damaged his thigh trying to prevent Inaki Williams scoring his second goal to put Athletic ahead after Thomas Partey had pulled Atleti level.

Simeone had used all three substitutions by that point and told the Uruguayan to see the rest of the game out in attack and to do what he could rather than finishing out the game down a man. 

That decision paid off handsomely as captain Godin plundered a stoppage-time winner after Rodrigo had levelled for a second time in the 80th minute.

"In the Williams goal, I hurt myself in the sprint, I felt a sharp pain," he told beIN Sports . "I went to go off but Cholo [Simeone] told me to go up front.

"We are going crazy with the win and this makes us all happy, along with the fans.

"We fought to the end and we were rewarded."

Simeone was also happy with what his injured star was able to accomplish. 

"When Diego got injured, the normal thing would be to take him off," Simeone added.

"But then we told him to go up. It is difficult to mark a player who is just standing. In the 1970s and 1980s, coaches did it."

The victory moves Atleti up to second in La Liga, one point behind Barcelona, who play Real Betis on Sunday, and Godin hopes the latest victory can help spark the club back to the top of the table in the coming weeks. 

"This is important to keep fighting up the top of the table," he is quoted as saying by ESPN .

"We knew it would be a difficult game, with many players missing, after a big week for us.

"But we will be reinforced a lot by winning like this. This lifts and excites the fans, and us players too."

Godin will have a chance to heal over the international break but could still face a race for fitness ahead of a clash with Barcelona on November 24 in the first match back after the break. 

"I am so happy for the fans," Simeone told a news conference. "The atmosphere was extraordinary.

"We had played a very good game against Borussia Dortmund [on Tuesday], who have beaten Bayern Munich and are top of the Bundesliga.

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"But working hard and never giving up, our effort and the atmosphere stand out.

"The atmosphere is fantastic; this stadium is incredible."

The club also face a vital Champions League clash with Monaco following the Barcelona game, with a chance to qualify for the knockout rounds of the competition on the lines.