Atletico Madrid had one eye on Juventus but did just enough to scrape past Leganes 1-0 on Saturday and keep their La Liga title hopes alive.
Antoine Griezmann was taken off at half-time at the Wanda Metropolitano while Alvaro Morata and Saul both started on the bench, presumably with Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Turin in mind.
Atletico played within themselves too, Saul Niguez converting the rebound off his own missed penalty in what was otherwise a game of few chances and precious little attacking inspiration.
Barcelona will restore their advantage at the top to seven points if they beat Rayo Vallecano later but this victory keeps Atletico in sight, just, with a trip to the Camp Nou still to come next month.
Real Madrid’s dip means Atletico are Barca’s closest challengers but their chances of success are arguably better in the Champions League, particularly with Real out of that too.
They will take a 2-0 lead into the second leg against Juve, on the back of five consecutive victories now without conceding.
Each of Leganes’ players wore shirts with the name of their mother on their back to celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday. But despite a nervy final few minutes for Atletico, Mauricio Pellegrino’s side never looked like engineering a comeback. They stay 13th.
The first half was almost entirely forgettable aside from Thomas Partey flashing wide and Jose Gimenez’s header being hacked off the line.
Despite the absence of attacking punch, Griezmann came off at half-time for Thomas Lemar, with no visible sign of an injury.
He would have taken the penalty soon after, won by Angel Correa after some quick feet in the area lured Kenneth Omeruo into a clumsy challenge.
Saul stepped up in Griezmann’s absence and missed, but tucked in the rebound after Andriy Lunin could only push the ball back into his path.
Atletico twice came close to a second as Thomas’ deflected drive crashed the crossbar before Lunin did brilliantly to claw out Lemar’s free-kick. Leganes launched balls into the box in search of a late equaliser but it never looked likely.