Real Madrid will go into next weekend's Primera Division 'Clasico' at Barcelona eight points behind their arch-rivals after Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat-trick in a 5-1 comeback home win over Deportivo Coruna on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho's side fell behind to a Riki goal in the 16th minute at the Bernabeu but the result was never in doubt after they stormed back to lead 3-1 at the break.
The victory continued their revival after a woeful start to their title defence and lifted them to sixth on 10 points.
Barca, who had to come back from two goals down to win 3-2 at Sevilla on Saturday, have 18 points thanks to their perfect record of six wins.
"We were a bit asleep at the start but after we fell behind we woke up and played a good match," Ronaldo told Spanish television.
"We knew we couldn't afford to drop any more points and it was a very important win," he added.
After Riki's early strike, Real were level within seven minutes when Angel Di Maria dashed in from the left and was felled by Manuel Pablo on the edge of the area.
Ronaldo stroked in the spot-kick before Di Maria made it 2-1 in the 39th minute when the Argentina winger's initial effort was diverted on to a post by Depor goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia and he followed up to nod the ball over the line.
Ronaldo added his second with a header from a deflected Sergio Ramos shot shortly before half-time and Pepe glanced in another header from Xabi Alonso's inswinging free kick in the 66th minute.
Ronaldo completed the scoring in the 84th minute when Evaldo handled in the area and the Portuguese converted his second penalty of the night.