Real Madrid climbed to the top of La Liga on Saturday after Karim Benzema's flicked finish helped them claim a thrilling 2-1 victory over Barcelona in a wild Clasico at Valdebebas.
Benzema's superb piece of skill and a deflected Toni Kroos free-kick put Madrid in charge and while Oscar Mingueza pulled one back for Barca, they fell to defeat in what could be Lionel Messi's final appearance in this fixture.
Real Madrid now own the better head-to-head against both of their rivals while Barcelona and Atletico still have to play each other at Camp Nou in the run-in.
It was a riveting contest at a rain-soaked Alfredo di Stefano stadium - certainly one of the most exciting Clasicos in years - that saw both teams squander numerous chances, several efforts come back off the woodwork and Casemiro sent off in extra time.
"This is a huge win for us, you could say that it was as important as a final but we'll have to keep on fighting for a while yet," said Real defender Nacho.
With the last play of the game, Barcelona substitute Ilaix Moriba rattled Real Madrid's crossbar. "We're still in it," said Barca coach Ronald Koeman. "We've lost a game against a team who is also fighting for the league but we have eight game left and we will fight to the end."
"It was a difficult game, the first half was ours, but we suffered in the second," said Zidane. "We deserved the victory, because we had a lot of chances to score the third."
Koeman however raged against the referee for not awarding them a penalty in their 2-1 defeat, which knocked them off course in La Liga's three-way title race.
The Catalans had two late penalty claims as they chased the game, with Martin Braithwaite going to ground both times after challenges from Ferland Mendy.
"If you're a Barcelona fan and you saw this game you'd be very annoyed with two of the referee's decisions. It was a clear, clear penalty and then he only gave four minutes of stoppage time," the Dutch coach said.