MADRID — Atletico Madrid ended a run of 23 football league derbies without a win when Diego Costa struck early to clinch a 1-0 victory over city rivals Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Following up their 2-1 King’s Cup final victory after extra time at the same venue in May, Atletico proved they had finally shaken off their inferiority complex with another gritty La Liga performance.
Brazilian striker Costa took his tally for the season to eight league goals when he broke away following a Koke pass and slipped the ball wide of keeper Diego Lopez in the 11th minute.
Atletico should have doubled their lead on a number of occasions and midfielder Koke curled a shot against the crossbar, but it needed a fantastic Thibaut Courtois save from Alvaro Morata to secure all three points.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico joined Barcelona at the top of the table with a maximum 21 points from seven games, but are second on goal difference.
Real stayed third with 16.
Earlier, Barca created a club record start to a league campaign with a 2-0 victory at promoted Almeria.
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi struck the opener after 21 minutes with a wonderful solo effort, but was forced to leave the pitch soon after with a hamstring problem in his right thigh.
Brazil fullback Adriano added a second goal in the 56th minute.
New Barca coach Gerardo Martino played down his own influence on his record-breaking team.
“All I have done is profit from what these guys have achieved,” Martino told a news conference.
“They have been breaking records for years. Mine is merely circumstantial.”
Valencia continued to recover from their poor start to the season with a 1-0 home win over basement side Rayo Vallecano.
Brazilian striker Jonas pounced on an error in the Rayo defence to net the only goal after 37 minutes, earning Miroslav Djukic’s team a third consecutive victory that put them sixth with 12 points.
Real Sociedad are ninth with seven points after a 1-1 draw at home to Sevilla.
Antoine Griezmann levelled for Socieded in the 66th minute to cancel out a great finish from Jairo in the 18th.
The Basques have now gone six games in La Liga and the Champions League without a win.