Marcos Llorente’s first-half goal kept Atletico Madrid on course for the La Liga title as the leaders edged Elche, who missed a late penalty.
Yannick Carrasco found Llorente inside the box and the forward’s deflected strike beat goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
But Atletico escaped late drama as Fidel Chaves’ penalty beat goalkeeper Jan Oblak but came back off the post.
The win moved Atletico on to 76 points with four games remaining.
They are just two points clear of Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane’s defending champions beat Osasuna 2-0 later on Saturday.