MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo struck midway through the first half as Spanish league leaders Real Madrid won 1-0 at Malaga, ahead of neighbours Atletico for whm Diego Costa scored in a 1-0 victory over Espanyol.
Ronaldo, top scorer in La Liga, claimed his 25th league goal from the edge of the area to see off Malaga who battled hard but lacked a cutting edge.
Isco missed an excellent chance to give Real a more convincing win against his former club.
Midfielder Xabi Alonso said: “We struggled because they pressed us in the second half and we were not able to get forward much. We were not sharp in moving the ball from midfield to attack. We didn’t link up well.”
Real were without the suspended Sergio Ramos at the back and brought in Raphael Varane.
Angel Di Maria, one booking away from a suspension and with the ‘Clasico’ looming next weekend against Barcelona, was held back on the subs’ bench.
Bayern march on
In Germany Bayern Munich completed their 50th Bundesliga match without defeat when they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to extend their lead to 23 points.
The Bavarians, who have won their last 17 league games, need two more wins to wrap up the title and could even clinch it next week, with eight matches to spare, if they beat Mainz and Borussia Dortmund and Schalke both fail to win.
Bayern broke through one minute before halftime through Mario Mandzukic’s 17th goal of the season. Bastian Schweinsteiger floated in a 30-metre free kick in the 52nd minute for the second and Stefan Kiessling scored a late consolation for Leverkusen, the last team to beat Bayern in the league when they won 2-1 in October 2012.
In Holland PSV Eindhoven continued their revival when they beat Vitesse Arnhem 2-1 to move up to third. First half goals from Jurgen Locadia and Memphis Depay ensured a seventh successive win for the club, who struggled to find form at the start of the season, but rode their luck in the Gelredome to come away with the three points.
PSV lie third with 50 points, eight behind champions and league leaders Ajax Amsterdam. Second-place Vitesse are on 52. The home loss for the Arnhem came as a major blow to their title aspirations.
In Italy Internazionale moved up to fourth on goals from Rodrigo Palacio and Jonathan in each half which provided a 2-0 win at Hellas Verona. Walter Mazzarri’s side thus overtook Fiorentina, who host Chievo Verona on Sunday.