Relief for Atleti coach Quique Sanchez Flores
A sumptuously weighed pass split the Zaragoza defence early on leaving Sergio Aguero to complete the simple task of scoring although a heavy first touch allowed Franco enough time to block the tame chip.
The first chance of note for Zaragoza came in the ninth minute but Sinama-Pongolle acrobatically volleyed over the bar causing no real danger. The relentless Atleti attack resumed shortly as Aguero once more threatened.
The Argentine's long run resulted in an effort tipped around the post by the alert Franco. Reyes was running the Zaragoza defence ragged and Obradovic was lucky to escape without a caution after a petulant stamp on the winger’s calf.
The game then burst into life as Reyes charged into the box and was felled in controversial circumstances. The referee decided against awarding the contentious penalty in front of a vociferous home crowd.
The Atletico of old seemed to be coming back as a delightful chip from Aguero was ruled out for offside. De Gea was woken from his slumber soon after as in the 30th minute Gabi galloped from midfield and smashed a shot with the outside of his boot that just curled away from goal at the crucial moment for the best attempt of the game so far.
Diego Forlan, who was being kept quiet throughout the first half by the impressive Ponzio, threatened with a first-time shot that rose over the bar. Braulio headed wide as some pressure from Zaragoza allowed the opportunity to be carved open.
An Atleti response almost culminated in a goal as a scramble after a Franco save nearly let Aguero to open the scoring, but the shot was deflected behind. The resulting corner just missed the little Argentine as he proved to be their most dangerous attacking outlet.
The second half followed the the opening few minutes of the first as opportunities for both teams resulted in more chances at goal. De Gea got down low to stop a drive from Braulio as he made the most from limited supply before a scorching shot from Reyes was inches away from gaining the lead after a selfless lay-off from the lively Aguero.
The game once more dipped in quality momentarily before a minute of madness. A swift counter-attack led by Forlan ended in Aguero blasting past Franco for a deserved winner in the 66th minute. This was on the back of Zaragoza contriving to miss several gilt-edged opportunities as Atletico went missing for a corner.
Immediately after the restart, Aguero could have doubled their advantage but hesitancy in front of goal cost him this glorious chance. Franco, who was single-handedly keeping his team in the game, then saved a wonderful volley from Raul Garcia as he resisted to concede once more.
Zaragoza were by no means out of the encounter as late on they struck the bar through Uche as he nearly punished the visitors for resting on their laurels. Fortune was clearly on De Gea’s side, however, as his bar was hammered once more as the desperately unlucky Bertolo hit the woodwork, this time after some fine individual play.
Atletico desperately held on for the win to move them up into seventh place, at least until Sunday's round of games.