Real Madrid got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory at home over Real Mallorca to stay four points behind leaders Barcelona who eased past Racing Santander 3-0 at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Madrid didn't have it easy though. They looked far from their best in the first half, and could have gone into the break trailing by a goal after Emilio Nsue's shot bounced back off the post in the 12th minute.
The Los Blancos failed to test Mallorca's keeper Dudu Aouate even once in a shoddy first half display which threatened to leave them six points adrift of leaders Barcelona if the scores had stayed level.
However, Madrid manager Jose Mourinho rung the changes at half-time bringing on regulars Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil for Kaka and Gago and it resulted in an improved second half display.
Madrid skipper and keeper, Iker Casillas, was drawn into a good save early in the second half. However, they upped a gear and soon tested Aouate when Cristiano Ronaldo's driven strike was tipped over.
Three minutes later, they broke the deadlock. Under pressure striker Karim Benzema did impressively to make space for himself before firing a low shot away from Aouate and into the back of the net.
Madrid pursued a second and came close when Ronaldo headed onto the crossbar from an Ozil cross. Ronaldo and Benzema then fired wide before Casillas was called into action at the other end. However, they held on for their 19th successive home victory.
On Saturday, Barcelona made it 55 points from a possible 60 with another dominating win, this time over Racing Santander.
After a shock loss against Real Betis in the Copa del Rey during mid-week, Barcelona were in no mood to taste defeat for the second time. They set about their task and found the back of the net in as early as the 2nd minute through Pedro. Messi then converted a penalty in the 33rd minute before Andres Iniesta made it 3-0 in the second half.
Despite their formidable form, Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola said they he was taking nothing for granted, especially given Real Madrid's strength. He said, Madrid are a very good team and their coach is the best. Mourinho is a very good coach. He's a very smart guy and he's motivated.
Madrid are a strong team this year, but they have always been a strong team. When I was a player and now, as coach, Madrid have always been strong, no matter who is the president and no matter who is the coach - every season they play they are competitive.
Last season they ended up with 96 points (Barca took the title with 99) and this season will be close again - they will be up there at the end of the season. Five, six or seven points is nothing at this stage of the league. The league will be decided in the last few rounds of the championship.
Madrid's win ensured they stayed four points behind Barcelona who are on 55 points.