Alaves players celebrate after defeating Atletico Madrid at the end of a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Mendizorroza stadium in Vitoria, Spain, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. AP
La Liga's reigning champions lost to the bottom club on Saturday as Atletico Madrid's rocky start to the season continued with a shock 1-0 defeat at Alaves.
Victor Laguardia's header in the fourth minute was enough for an unexpected victory for Alaves, who sat 20th at kick-off, after losing all their first five games and failing to score in any of their previous four.
For Atletico, a first loss of the season laid bare their problems in attack and gave Real Madrid the chance to move five points clear when they play Villarreal later on Saturday.
Diego Simeone's side have managed only two wins from their last six games in all competitions and this was the third time in four matches that they have failed to score.
"Obviously we lacked ideas," said Simeone. "I don't think it's a system problem. It's about aggression, in defence, and other situations."
The result presented Real Madrid with a golden opportunity to open up an early advantage before Atletico face Barcelona next weekend.
Before then, Atleti play away at AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday, a game made more important after a goalless draw at home to Porto cranked up the pressure in a group that also includes Liverpool.
Simeone again started with Antoine Griezmann alongside Suarez up front, but the pair mustered only one shot between them, from Suarez, with Griezmann outshone by Angel Correa when the Argentinian was brought on in the second half.
The pressure on Griezmann's place in the starting line-up is increasing. Joao Felix, who was watching from the stands as he served a suspension, will return and Correa looks the most in-form partner for Suarez.
Atletico only managed one shot on target in the whole match as Alaves saw out their first three points of the season with relative ease, despite Jan Oblak going up for the final corner in injury-time.
Simeone suggested opponents are sitting back more, putting the onus on Atletico to break them down.
"Teams are not playing us like they've played us in previous seasons," Simeone said.
Alaves had been without a goal in almost 400 minutes but scored in the fourth as Laguardia got a run on Stefan Savic at a corner from the right and headed in at the back post.
An uneventful match livened up in the second half as Laguardia was called into defensive action, clearing Rodrigo De Paul's free-kick off the line after the ball had bypassed everyone in the box.
Alaves should have made the victory more secure but Mamadou Loum and Pina both blazed glorious opportunities over the bar.
Correa had come on for Atletico as Simeone tried to spark his team and the striker went close with a near post drive but was denied, leaving Alaves to see out a remarkable win.