But the result came at a cost, with Petr Cech and John Terry both forced off through injury and Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel receiving bookings which will see them miss the return leg at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday through suspension.
Jose Mourinho sent his side out with the clear intention of keeping a clean sheet, with five men in midfield providing a solid screen to the back four and only former Atletico striker Fernando Torres operating in a lone attacking role.
The match had been billed as a showdown between Chelsea goalkeeper Cech and the heir to his Stamford Bridge throne, Thibaut Courtois, who is taking in his third season on loan with the Spanish league leaders.
But Cech’s night was brought to a premature conclusion when he was injured after falling awkwardly onto his elbow after a collision with Raul Garcia as he pushed a 15th-minute Koke corner over the crossbar, with 41-year-old Mark Schwarzer sent into the fray after a lengthy stoppage.
Schwarzer had very little to do through the opening half, with Diego Simeone’s side unable to find a way through and any crosses which were swung into the box comfortably dealt with by Terry and Gary Cahill, with Cesar Azpilicueta and the returning Ashley Cole providing good support.
Diego Costa squared up to Terry in the opening exchanges after a clearance from the Chelsea skipper with referee Jonas Eriksson forced to step in, before Cole got away with taking an additional touch on the edge of his box as Raul Garcia was penalised for his challenge on the left-back.
Cahill nodded a corner narrowly wide in the 21st minute but the whistle had already gone before, as the half-hour mark approached, Willian burst forward and fed Ramires, but his effort from the edge of the box was not a threat to the under-employed Courtois or close enough to Torres.
After being a spectator for much of the time since entering the fray, Schwarzer was forced to scramble across his line to cover a fine curled effort from midfielder Mario Suarez which shaped just the wrong side of his left upright.
Azpilicueta had to throw himself in front of a powerfully struck Diego Costa effort as half-time approached, with the Spain striker’s hopeful penalty appeals rightly ignored.
Courtois was finally called into action early in the second period as he dropped to gather a Lampard shot from distance, before David Luiz required treatment after coming off second best in an aerial challenge with Diego.
Schwarzer came haring off his line to punch clear in the 55th minute, with the ball dropping kindly to Diego, but he could only fire a weak shot straight into the arms of the grateful goalkeeper, before Torres found Courtois’ midriff after working a yard of space for a shot outside the Atletico box.
Arda Turan was sent on in place of Diego, with Lampard going into the book for a late sliding challenge on the Atletico substitute.
Mikel took responsibility to head Juanfran’s cross away ahead of Schwarzer with Diego Costa lurking before Chelsea suffered another significant blow, as Terry limped off after injuring his left ankle in a seemingly innocuous incident involving Diego Costa and David Luiz.
Mikel and Gabi were booked following a melee in the wake of a Lampard handball, with suspension now ruling both men out of the return, and Gabi curled the resulting free-kick narrowly wide of goal.
Arda Turan headed just off target at the far post from Juanfran’s cross after getting up above Cahill before Raul Garcia’s looping header landed on the roof of Schwarzer’s net as Chelsea held out, while David Luiz fired a late free-kick well wide for the visitors.