Atletico Madrid’s French forward Kevin Gameiro (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match Real Sporting de Gijon vs Club Atletico de Madrid at El Molinon stadium in Gijon on February 18, 2017.
MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP
Substitute Kevin Gameiro hit the second fastest hat-trick in La Liga history in five minutes as Atletico Madrid maintained their grip on fourth in La Liga with a 4-1 win at Sporting Gijón.
Gameiro was only introduced 28 minutes from time but struck in the 80th, 81st and 85th minutes to move Atletico to within four points of leaders Real Madrid, who are in action later at home to Espanyol.
Yannick Carrasco had bundled Atletico into the lead seconds into the second-half before Sergio Alvarez levelled three minutes later.
Defeat leaves Sporting still languishing in the relegation zone, two points off safety.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone named a strong side despite a trip to Bayer Leverkusen to come in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
However, Atletico were sluggish in the first 45 minutes with Sporting’s giant 6ft 8in striker Lacine Traore twice coming close to opening the scoring.
The visitors got a break right at the start of the second period when Carrasco was allowed to bear down on goal despite Antoine Griezmann standing in an offside position and tapped home at the second attempt after Ivan Cuellar had saved his first effort.
The lead lasted just three minutes as Atletico’s once solid defence was breached by Alvarez as his effort evaded the attempts of Stefan Savic to clear off the line.
Atletico have now conceded more goals in La Liga so far this season than all of last season in La Liga.
Gameiro was summoned from the bench just after the hour mark as Atletico upped the pressure in search for a winner.
Griezmann was harshly denied by the offside flag 15 minutes from time.
However, the French international did have a vital role to play in Gameiro’s first as it was his through ball from which Gameiro rounded Cuellar to slot home.
Thomas Partey teed up Gameiro to thrash home seconds later and Gameiro completed his hat-trick with another composed finish on the counter-attack.