Jose Antonio Verza curled in a stunning goal - surely meant as a cross - 10 minutes from time after Almeria's stubborn defensive display had driven Atletico to distraction on a night of pure frustration.
And things got worse five minutes later when goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia - perhaps at fault for the opener - blundered in a big way, fluffing a back-pass and then fouling Jonathan Zongo to concede a penalty, converted by Verza, and seeing red.
The decision seemed harsh, particularly the red card, but Almeria were not complaining.
Atletico ended the night in second place in the overall standings - if only on goal difference following a big win for Real Madrid - but victory for Barcelona at Sevilla on Sunday would send Gerardo Martino's men back to the top of the league.
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