Karim Benzema’s second-half strike settled a hard-fought derby at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday and saw Real Madrid move provisionally six points clear of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.
This was the third meeting between and Madrid and Atletico this season and there had been no goals in either of the first two, with Real victorious on penalties in the Spanish Supercopa in Saudi Arabia when the sides met in January.
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane picked virtually the same side that started in Jeddah, with five midfielders and Benzema returning in the place of Luka Jovic after he had missed the Supercopa through injury.
Atleti, meanwhile, were without the injured Joao Felix in attack and the two midfields mostly cancelled each other out in a tight first half, as is customary in this fixture.
Angel Correa hit the side netting with one effort and slid another effort just wide when clean through after that, but the Argentine had been offside anyway.
Atleti also felt hard done by after Alvaro Morata went down under a hand from Casemiro late in the half, but saw their appeals for a penalty dismissed – first by the referee and then by VAR.
Zidane made a double change at the break as Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior came on for Toni Kroos and Isco.
That made Madrid more fluid in attack and although Diego Simeone sent on Thomas Lemar for Morata shortly afterwards, Real took the lead after 56 minutes.
Vinicius was key, the Br azilian sliding a slick pass through to the advancing Ferland Mendy on the left and the defender curling an inch-perfect cross into the path of Benzema, who beat Jan Oblak from close range.
Atleti introduced Yannick Carrasco, back from a two-year spell in China on loan, and young striker Sergio Camello late on, but Madrid defended their lead with relative comfort and move six clear of Barcelona for now, with the Catalans at home to Levante on Sunday.