Cristiano Ronaldo struck midway through the first half as Real Madrid beat Malaga 1-0 to go six points clear at the top of La Liga.
The Portuguese striker notched up his 25th goal of the campaign with a clinical finish from the edge of the area to see off the challenge from Malaga who battled hard but lacked a cutting edge.
Isco missed an excellent chance against his former club to give Real a more convincing win but they still picked up three valuable points in the title race with the only downside an injury to Karim Benzema.
He picked up a knock on his thigh after colliding with Ronaldo and had to be substituted but it is not thought to be serious.
Real now have 70 points, six more than city rivals Atletico Madrid who will look to reduce the gap when they take on Espanyol in the late game.
Barcelona, who are third on 63 points, face Osasuna on Sunday.
Earlier, Rayo Vallecano beat Almeria 3-1 and Levante went down 1-0 at home against Celta Vigo.
Barcelona rout Osasuna
Lionel Messi scored a hat trick to set up Barcelona's 7-0 rout of Osasuna in La Liga, ensuring the defending champions stayed in striking distance of leader Real Madrid before their critical `clasico' match next Sunday.
Messi netted from close range to open the scoring at Camp Nou in the 18th minute.
Alexis Sanchez made it 2-0 four minutes later before Andres Iniesta scored just his second goal of the season in the 34th minute.
Messi struck twice more in the second half, either side of Cristian Tello's goal, to give him a team-leading 18 league goals this campaign, before he set up Pedro Rodriguez.
Barcelona's win left it in third place, four points behind Madrid, ahead of their meeting in the Spanish capital next week.