Real hang on, Atletico close gap again
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his La Liga-leading 25th goal to give Real Madrid a 1-0 win away to Malaga on Saturday, when the pacesetters extended their unbeaten run to 30 consecutive matches in all competitions.
• Rigg: Points over performance
Ronaldo netted the winner in the 23rd minute, and a tired Madrid was fortunate Malaga failed to muster a comeback in the final 10 minutes.
Madrid's win was tarnished by the loss of Karim Benzema to an apparent leg injury.
Later on Saturday, Atletico Madrid closed the gap to three points again, with a 1-0 win over Espanyol.
David Villa went close in the first half when his header was saved by Kiko Casilla and Diego Costa could have had a penalty as a tangle of legs with Juan Fuentes occurred in the area, but the referee did not blow his whistle.
Then, Villa threaded a great ball through for Costa to chase and the Spain international slotted home in the 55th minute to ensure his side took all the points.
Joaquin Larrivey scored twice to help Rayo Vallecano beat Almeria 3-1, provisionally lifting the minnows clear of the relegation zone with a third consecutive victory.
Forward Alberto Bueno headed Rayo in front in the 38th minute at Vallecas Stadium, and Iago Falque dribbled by a defender and picked out Larrivey to tap in his cross in the 57th minute.
After substitute Fernando Soriano pulled one back for Almeria in the 72nd minute, Larrivey started and finished a flowing series of one-touch passes to net his fourth goal in the last three games in the 78th.
Rayo rose three points above danger. Almeria were left in the drop zone along with Valladolid and Real Betis, before they play on Sunday.
Also on Saturday, Celta Vigo earned an entertaining 1-0 win at Levante to end a two-game losing run.
Nolito scored from a well-orchestrated counter-attack in the 19th minute for what proved to be the winner before both goalkeepers made several saves.
David Barral fired a penalty chance off the bar in the 61st miute before Celta keeper Yoel Rodriguez denied him what looked to be a sure goal by smothering a short-range effort on the line.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.