Atletico saw 68% possession and registered five shots on target but were kept under control for the majority of the clash.
The breakthrough came in the 79th minute, when Toni Lato’s own goal gave Diego Simeone’s men a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Simeone looked particularly emotional pre-game during the moment of silence for his former teammate and compatriot Diego Maradona, who died at the age of 60 on Wednesday.
But the Argentine will have been heartened with the grit and tenacity his charges showed to get the result at Mestalla.
Atletico are now level on points with La Real with a game in hand. Valencia, on the other hand, are in tenth position.
Next up for them is a trip to Eibar next Monday evening, while Atletico will look to welcome Real Valladolid to Madrid next Saturday – they just have the small matter of a crucial Champions League clash with Bayern Munich in Germany first.
Featured image courtesy of Atletico Madrid.