March 7 (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone rued his side's missed chances after they drew Sunday's derby against Real Madrid 1-1 and lost the opportunity to move eight points clear of their city rivals at the top of La Liga.
Luis Suarez got Atletico off to a strong start with a goal in the 15th minute but they failed to build on their lead and Karim Benzema salvaged a point for the champions with an 88th-minute equaliser.
"We were in control for most of the game, we were dominant defensively and had chances to close the game out but didn't take them and they have great footballers and were able to equalise," Simeone told reporters.
"In football you have to give everything throughout a match and if you don't take your chances you shouldn't be surprised if your opponents equalise. 1-0 is always a slender lead because every team has strengths and can always catch you out."
Atletico are still well in charge of the title race, leading second-placed Barcelona by three points and Real by five with a game in hand on both teams.
"I don't want to make extreme conclusions, I'm left with many positive things right now," Simeone added. "It's going to be very difficult for everyone from now until the end of the season.
"I'm pleased with how the team worked and how well we played, we did practically everything we wanted to. But we know it's not going to be easy and we never thought it would be.
"People thought we would win the title by 20 points but we know how difficult it is at every ground in this league."
Real coach Zinedine Zidane said Atletico had bossed the first half while his side had edged the second and his team still firmly believed they were in the race.
"Our objective is to keep going. We know there's a long way to go and that we're going to keep fighting until the end because anything can happen," said the Frenchman.
"We know what we need to improve and the most important thing for us is that we managed to react in the second half and play much better." (Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Clare Fallon)