Real Madrid picked up a club-record 16th consecutive win as Athletic Bilbao's revival continued in La Liga on Saturday.
Madrid eased to a 2-1 victory at Malaga as Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale got on the scoresheet for the league leaders.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti had found his future called into question after Real lost consecutive league games to Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid in September.
But the European champions have been irresistible since then, winning every game they have played in all competitions and netting an incredible 59 goals in the process.
Benzema opened the scoring early on at La Rosaleda after fine work by Cristiano Ronaldo, before Bale grabbed the crucial second late on with an excellent finish after latching on to Ronaldo's flicked header.
Former Malaga playmaker Isco was then harshly sent off for a second booking, before Roque Santa Cruz ensured Real would face a nervy last minute or so when he nodded home in stoppage time.
However, Ancelotti's side held on for a deserved three points that ensures they will end the weekend top of La Liga.
Athletic Bilbao's return to form continued as they claimed a 2-1 victory at Getafe.
Mikel San Jose and Benat netted for Ernesto Valverde's men, who have won five of their past seven matches in all competitions after a poor start to the season.
San Jose headed Bilbao into a 36th-minute lead, getting to the near post to guide in Benat's corner.
Benat went from provider to goalscorer a minute before the end, curling in a 20-yard free-kick into the bottom corner.
Angel Lafita's header from a Fredy Hinestroza cross in the first minute of additional time made for an entertaining finish, but Bilbao held on.
Bilbao moved into 18 points and ninth place, while Getafe are 12th.
Elsewhere, Espanyol enjoyed a 2-1 victory at home to Levante and Eibar moved six points clear of the relegation zone with a surprise 1-0 win at Celta de Vigo.