Real rebound with Almeria win
Real Madrid showed they have not waved their white flag in the title race bouncing back from their demoralising El Clasico defeat to Barcelona with a 2-1 win at Almeria on Thursday to move three points behind Barcelona at La Liga summit.
Albert Crusat shot Almeria into a shock 14th minute lead but Real recovered with Cristiano Ronaldo's 19th league goal of the season and a 69th minute strike from Rafael van der Vaart sealing a comeback win.
Barcelona had followed up their Real win with a resounding 3-0 home victory over Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday to move six points clear and put the pressure on their rivals. Madrid responded with a seventh consecutive away win to stay in the title race although they will have to win the six remaining games and hope Barça slip-up if they are to take this season's title.
Real made just one change from the team that lost to Barcelona with Guti coming into to midfield as Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay missed out through injury. Almeria, just below mid-table, had nothing to play for except the pride of beating Real and the visitors almost scored after three minutes with van der Vaart shooting at goalkeeper Diego Alves from close range.
Six minutes later Ronaldo forced a save from Alves with a trademark free-kick as a goal looked coming, however, it was Almeria who scored it. Real were all at sea at the back and Kalu Uche cut the ball across goal for Crusat to arrive on cue and smash the ball home.
Real were shocked but Ronaldo restored parity on 27 minutes gliding past two defenders with a step-over before firing in a left-footed shot. Guti hit the post shortly afterwards but Almeria spurned a fantastic chance to go back in front on the half four mark.
Nigerian Uche looked destined to score a metre from goal but for some reason tried a fancy flick rather than a side-foot and it backfired as the ball rebounded on to his other foot and the chance went begging.
In the second half Real carved Almeria open time and time again with Gonzalo Higuain seeing his shot scrambled off the goal-line on 56 minutes and Brazilian Marcelo was denied by the excellent Alves three minutes later.
It looked like it was going to be a frustrating night for Madrid but van der Vaart fired in a left-footed drive on 69 minutes to finally beat Alves. Four minutes later Uche looked poised to equalise after a terrible mistake from defender Raul Albiol but goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved the day rushing out to thwart the forward.
Third-place Valencia - who beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 later on Thursday thanks to two goals from David Silva - travel to Real on Sunday.