Diego Simeone said it was the speed of Kevin Gameiro that made all the difference following the striker’s hat-trick in the 4-1 defeat of Sporting Gijon on Saturday.
Yannick Carrasco had opened the scoring for the title-chasing La Liga side straight from the kick-off for the second half at the Estadio Municipal El Molinon, ahead of a quick-fire equaliser from Sergio Alvarez, just three minutes later.
Atletico didn't appear to be able to find a way through their resolute opponents until Simeone's second-half substitutes – as well as the withdrawal of Lacina Traore for Sporting in the 76th minute – who had been excellent all afternoon.
Simeone introduced Saul for Angel Correa and Gameiro for Fernando Torres just after the hour mark before replacing Carrasco with Thomas Partey a few minutes later.
And soon the stage was set for Gameiro to make his mark, with goals in the 80th, 81st and 85th minutes, after twice being set up by Antoine Griezmann and once by Partey.
After the game, the Atletico boss told the club's official website: "In the first half, there were chances at both goals. In the second half, we got ahead fast, but Sporting hurt us shortly after.
"The changes made us very strong in the midfield. Gameiro's speed ended up breaking the match.
"The reaction is very good. It makes me very happy for Gameiro. He scored three goals in a very important match."
A delighted Gameiro added: "We know that we can win the matches in the last minutes. I’m a forward and forwards have to score goals.
"I have worked very hard to score again and I’m going to go on like that, to help the team score goals."
And Partey concluded: "We did a good job from beginning to end and I think that the team deserved to win.
"Now, the important thing is to continue winning points in threes."