Quique Flores' men move into fourth place with a deserved victory.
Brazilian striker Diego Costa proved the difference between the sides in a heated encounter in the Spanish capital netting the only goal 20 minutes in but los Colchoneros had to play the final half hour with just ten men after Jose Antonio Reyes was sent off for a rash challenge with his arm on Matteo Contini.
The hosts were in control of the contest from the off with Reyes showing glimpses of last season's impressive form but goal chances were at a premium as Zaragoza scrapped to disrupt the home side's rhythm.
Filipe Luis' presence on the left wing was giving the visitors a real headache as he regularly proved a dangerous attacking outlet for Atleti and it was one of his runs that provided the opening as he managed to surge to the byline before pulling a low ball across goal which Costa tapped in from close range.
Fifteen minutes later the Brazilian striker spurned a glorious opportunity to double Atletico's lead as he was denied by substitute goalkeeper Toni Doblas in a one on one, although Diego Forlan was furious Costa didn't pick his head up and spot Forlan for what would have been a certain goal.
Zaragoza improved towards then end of the half in what proved to be their best spell of the game but they never really tested David de Gea in the Atletico goal.
The first quarter of the second half was punctuated by stoppages as referee Cesar Muniz Fernandez dished out five cards to Atletico players to add to the four he had shown in the first period in what proved a very scrappy period of the game. Reyes saw red for a needless foul on Contini but the visitors failed to take advantage as a Gabi drive from distance was as close as they came to mustering an equaliser.
At the opposite end Diego Godin went close but saw his header superbly saved by Doblas while a Simao drive into the side netting failed to trouble the stand-in shot stopper.
Even with just ten men on the field it was comfortable for Atletico as los Blanquillos' challenge ended with a whimper.
Costa's tap-in proved the high point of an otherwise dull encounter as 11 cards in total were shown by Fernandez but Quique Flores will happily take the three points and the added boost of Kun Aguero's late appearance.
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