Robert Lewandowski scored in added time to clinch a 1-0 win over Valencia and tie Barcelona with Real Madrid for the top spot in La Liga.
The Polish striker’s 13th goal in 12 rounds saved Xavi Hernandez’s side from another setback three days after they were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage for the second year in a row.
Lewandowski made up for his teammates’ poor finishing when he stretched his right boot to deflect a Raphinha home pass for the late goal on Saturday.
Barcelona players Raphinha and Ferran Torres spent more than 110 million euros ($171 million) to bring in over the past year, both missing golden chances in the 85th after coming on as substitutes.
But the connection between Raphinha and the new star of the team was enough to take away the three points from Mestalla Stadium.
“This is a very important victory for us, especially the way we won,” said Xavi.
“We played nervously today. We tried to disconnect and move on from the Champions League, but you could see that we are still affected. We still deserved to win, even if it happened in the final seconds.”
Real could regain the lead when they face Girona on Sunday.
For the second consecutive game, Atlético suffered heartbreak in the last kick.
Cádiz won 3-2 after Ruben Sobrino delivered a cross just before the final whistle to finally turn the see-saw dispute in the hosts’ favor.
The last-second defeat came just three days after Atleti were also knocked out of the Champions League after Yannick Carrasco had a penalty saved and two teammates’ rebound attempts failed in the final kicks of the match.
Cádiz, for whom Socceroos winger Awer Mabil was an unused substitute, led 2-0 until João Félix turned it around at the end of the game. His scissor kick was turned into his own net by Luis Hernandez in the 85th minute and Felix equalized with a long kick in the 89th.
But Cádiz’s last-gasp recovery paid off when Sobrino scored the winning goal at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla for the relegation-threatened club’s first win at home this season.
Rayo Vallecano beat Sevilla 1-0 and Almeria went from disadvantage to defeat Celta de Vigo 3-1.