Atletico Madrid were unable to enhance their top-four prospects with victory on their return to LaLiga, playing out a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao.
Iker Muniain’s delightful 37th-minute opener was cancelled out 129 seconds later by Diego Costa, who claimed his third goal of the season and first since October.
The striker paid tribute in his celebration to Atletico’s women’s team midfielder Virginia Torrecilla, who underwent successful surgery to have a brain tumour removed last month. Costa showed a shirt bearing her name.
Substitute Santiago Arias came closest to snatching all the points for Los Colchoneros, who sit sixth in the table on goal difference.
Marcos Llorente opened up Athletic with a fine diagonal throughball in the 12th minute, sending Yannick Carrasco scampering through to shoot just wide across goalkeeper Unai Simon, who briefly lost his footing.
Jan Oblak was uncharacteristically wobbly when he took two attempts to grasp Inaki Williams’ 25th-minute header but the Slovenia international displayed his brilliant best when he kept out Yeray’s glancing attempt at full stretch.
Oblak had no chance when Muniain dispatched a clever finish with the outside of his right boot into the bottom right corner.
Atletico sprung immediately from their mid-half slumber – Koke’s cute pass leaving Costa to slide a finish beyond Simon.
That seemed to inspire a role reversal during the early stages of the second half, with Atletico enjoying plenty of attacking territory but Athletic keeping their visitors honest on the break as Yuri Berchiche crashed an effort into the side-netting.
Diego Simeone’s anguish in the dugout was clear when Arias arrived unmarked at the back post 10 minutes from time, drawing a brilliant point-blank save from Simon.