Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho admitted his side were fortunate to come away with three points from their match at Rayo Vallecano.
Cristiano Ronaldo's backheel early in the second half was enough to secure a 1-0 win and maintain Real's 10-point lead over Barcelona at the top of the table.
However, Rayo missed a glut of chances during the match, with Piti striking the post and Michu also wasteful in front of goal before his late dismissal capped a frustrating evening.
The performance was enough to win Mourinho's admiration, though.
"It is easy to drop points at this stadium,'' the Portuguese said on Real's official website. "Rayo did not deserve to lose.
"A draw would have been a just result because Rayo were fantastic and they don't deserve people saying Real Madrid didn't play well. They deserve to hear they did a fantastic job against us.
"They made us work incredibly hard and had three clear chances to score. The players, coaching staff and fans of Rayo Vallecano deserve to hear people say they deserved more.
"I'm happy with the score and with my men's job, but I'm intelligent enough to see Rayo didn't deserve to lose. I hope they keep up the good work because they're having a fantastic season.''