Cristiano Ronaldo scores 50th goal of the season in Real Madrid's victory
Cristiano Ronaldo notched his 50th goal of the season as Real Madrid beat Malaga 3-1 at the Bernabeu, but it was far from comfortable for the title hopefuls who saw both Gareth Bale and Luka Modric go off injured.
Bale limped off after just four minutes with a calf problem while his former Tottenham colleague Modric had to be replaced in the second half after suffering a knee injury, giving coach Carlo Ancelotti serious cause for concern ahead of Wednesday's Champions League return clash with Atletico Madrid.
Real will at least go into that game on the back of a victory as goals from Sergio Ramos, James Rodriguez and Ronaldo cancelled out a reply from Juanmi.
Ronaldo's strike saw him bring up 50 goals in all competitions for the fifth successive year, although he should have reached the milestone earlier than stoppage time having seen his 67th-minute penalty come back off the post when the score was still 1-0.
Real were not made to pay for the miss in the end as they remained two points behind leaders Barcelona, but the injuries to Bale and Modric will be a worry as they take on Atletico for a place in the semi-finals of the European Cup this week.
The defending European champions, who drew the first leg 0-0 against their bitter rivals, were already without the injured Karim Benzema when they lost a second part of their so-called 'BBC' attacking triumvirate early on Saturday as Bale went down clutching his calf.
The world's most expensive player was replaced by Javier Hernandez but they still had the most crucial part of their BBC strikeforce in Ronaldo, and he helped Real take a 24th-minute lead.
Ronaldo drilled in a free-kick from the right side of the area and the unmarked Ramos tucked home his shot at the far post.
The Malaga defence appealed en masse that Ramos was offside, but the decision stood and Real went into the break leading by that goal.
In a match where Malaga often gave as good as they got against their illustrious opponents, Real could have made things a lot more comfortable for themselves if they had taken the glorious chance presented to them in the 66th minute when Samu Castillejo brought down Rodriguez in the area.
However, Ronaldo spurned the opportunity as his penalty came crashing back off the post.
That was a double blow at the start of the second half for the hosts after they had also seen Modric go off injured following a challenge with Recio, but Ronaldo's miss did not prove costly as they took a 2-0 lead in the 69th minute.
Rodriguez played a one-two with Isco on the edge of the area before drilling in a shot which found the top corner via the outstretched hands of keeper Carlos Kameni.
Malaga refused to make things easy for Real though, and they got themselves back into the game almost immediately when Juanmi headed Roberto Rosales' cross past Iker Casillas to make it 2-1.
The outcome remained in the balance as Malaga pushed for an equaliser, but Real finally killed the game off in stoppage time when Hernandez did well before setting up Ronaldo to slot home from five yards out for his 39th league goal of the season.