Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao struck his 25th league goal of the season to snatch a narrow 1-0 victory against Sevilla.
The Colombian scored late in the game to round-off a match that was marred by some cynical fouls and playacting.
Unai Emery’s side focused their early attacks down the flanks, looking to isolate the full-backs in one-on-one situations against Alberto and Jesus Navas.
Little came in the opening phases, as cynicism took over which hindered the flow of the game early on.
A 50-yard long-ball from Cala to Alvaro Negredo mustered Sevilla's first opportunity on 19 minutes with the striker creating a yard to fire his shot over the bar.
Los Rojiblancos carved out the only other opportunity of the half eight minutes later which came from slack play by Luis Filipe.
The full-back lost possession 20 yards from his own goal to Ivan Rakitic who found Jose Antonio Reyes but the former Arsenal forward’s curling left-foot effort went over the bar.
Still, for their 60 per cent possession in the closing stages of the half, Sevilla could not penetrate the strongest defence in La Liga.
The Andalucians made a bright start to the second half, forcing Thibaut Courtois into a reaction save from Alberto Botia’s header.
Diego Costa became the pantomime villain inside a quarter of an hour and was lucky to remain on the field after making a deliberate attempt to con the officials.
Despite Sevilla completing four times as many passes as Atletico with 20 minutes to play, the Madridistas found the net with their only shot on target.
Substitute Raul Garcia showed excellent technique to fire a right-foot volley across the face of goal with Falcao beating the offside trap to get the important touch.
The hosts kept their best passage of play for the final five minutes and threw the kitchen sink at Courtois’s goal.
First, Negredo was denied by a fingertip stop from the Belgian keeper after being picked out by winger Navas.
From the resulting set-piece, the former Real Madrid forward should have levelled with a similar headed opportunity but he sent his effort wide.
Courtois was alert in stoppage time with a superb save from Rakitic’s goalbound free-kick which was tipped on to the crossbar.
The on-loan Chelsea keeper’s 18th clean sheet of the season condemned Sevilla to just their first home defeat in eight games.