Real Madrid left it late and Atlético Madrid left it later. It was 00.40 and there were nine minutes remaining when James Rodríguez gave Real the lead at the Santiago Bernabéu; minutes later Raúl García nudged in an equaliser. A match that started at 11pm on Tuesday night was goalless until it reached Wednesday morning, then two arrived. There are still two days of the Spanish Super Cup left; a second leg that straddles Friday and Saturday will decide who lifts this trophy.

A largely uneventful game burst into life after the midnight hour. Rodríguez, Real’s £63m summer signing, reached a loose ball six yards out to squeeze a shot past Miguel Ángel Moyà. Another trophy seemed set to slip from Atlético’s grasp in the dying minutes but on this occasion there was the time and the energy to react. A late corner from Koke took a touch and evaded everyone until it found Raúl García who raised a heel to score at the far post. There was excitement after all. That largely dull first half felt a long time ago now.

Early on Real Madrid had the ball but what chances there had been were Atlético’s. Real maintained possession but they were rarely pressured until they progressed, and they rarely progressed. Only Gareth Bale, swift to turn inside from the right, truly looked threatening. One lovely piece of skill took him away from Guilherme Siqueira, the summer signing who replaced Chelsea-bound Filipe Luís. The defender had raced in thinking he could get to the ball first but should have known better. Bale was too alert and too athletic.

Nothing, though, came of that; nothing really came of anything. By half-time the shots on target count read 0-3 and there were whistles. Mostly they were directed at the referee and at Atlético’s willingness to see this game into its second day, and beyond, as uneventfully as possible. If they could score too, then so much the better. And insomuch as anyone came near to doing so, they did.

Twice Sergio Ramos and Pepe combined to allow the visitors in and cheaply too. These could not even be described as simple balls. The first was a long punt from Moyà; the second a throw-in that Pepe headed back towards his own goal. Mario Mandzukic struck that one on the bounce from 20 yards, straight into the arms of Iker Casillas. The next was reached by Saúl Ñíguez, dashing towards the area in the inside-right channel. Again Casillas saved.

Neither had been difficult and when Casillas flapped at a high ball, Mandzukic could only lift the ball gently into his arms. Saúl later headed well wide and, at the other end, so too did Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese had not appeared much in the first half and he did not appear at all in the second. His place was taken after the break by Rodríguez. The debate before the game had been between him and Ángel Di María. In the end neither had started as Xabi Alonso and Toni Kroos played in midfield alongside Luka Modric instead. Now, though, Rodríguez got an opportunity, nominally on the left but moving into more central areas.

The first opportunity came from the other side and it came immediately, when Carvajal found Bale, who drew a sharp save from Moyà at his near post.

Soon afterwards Mandzukic leapt with Ramos, falling hard on the defender with his arm outstretched. If that was accidental, Ramos’s reaction was not. He punched the Croatian in the face. The referee, who presumably did not see the incident clearly, gave both men a yellow but the game was heating up. Siqueira then crunched into Bale; he was treading a line so fine and tracking a player so quick that Diego Simeone withdrew him.

The next player to tumble was Rodríguez. This time the foul appeared generous. Ramos curled the free-kick over the bar but Real were given another chance because the referee judged Raúl García to have overstepped the foam line. Bale took it this time, thumping it hard to the right of the wall. Moyà punched the shot away, straight to Kroos who hit it over the bar from nine yards. It was the game’s best chance. It seemed like there might be more; it was opening up a little.

Kroos had the next shot too, but could only scuff it from the edge of the area. Then Benzema headed over. Then Di María came on to a huge roar. He had been the man of the match in the European Cup final when these two sides last met but his future appears likely to lie elsewhere. Suddenly, there was electricity. There would be goals as well. Real found a way through but Atlético found a way back.