They are rapidly closing in on a first Primera Liga title in four years – the latest hurdle that had to be negotiated by Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side, Sunday’s trip to cross-town rivals Rayo Vallecano.
A difficult challenge – their hosts were always going to be highly motivated, the atmosphere at the Estadio Campo de Futbol de Vallecas, charged.
Madrid were aiming for their seventh consecutive league victory but it was the home team who had the better of an intense first half.
Piti came close to giving Vallecano a 40th-minute lead as Jose Ramon Sandoval’s men created more chances – and showed more hunger.
But all the hosts pressing was to count for nothing.
One piece of genius by a magical player would be enough to settle this game.
No prizes for guessing that it would be Cristiano Ronaldo who conjured up this back-heeled finish.
Miguel Perez Cuesta spurned several chances for Vallecano – ‘Michu’s frustrating afternoon was crowned by his 88th minute dismissal for a challenge on Sami Khedira.
It looked a harsh decision.
Rayo mustered a late push but missed a pair of clear chances to level as Real held on to win their ninth straight away game.