Real Madrid extended their lead at the top of the Primera Liga on Sunday following a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to relegation-threatened Real Murcia.
The hosts were forced to play most of the game with 10 men after full-back Miguel Torres was sent off for a badly-timed tackle from behind on Dani Aquino after 19 minutes.
But Bernd Schuster's side sealed an important victory thanks to Wesley Sneijder's 54th-minute strike to move nine points clear of second-placed Barcelona.
The league leaders struggled to impose themselves on the game early on and the first chance fell to Murcia when Cesar Arzo headed inches wide at the far post following Quique De Lucas' curling free-kick after just five minutes.
But the home side slowly began to find their passing range and soon started to dominate possession.
Arjen Robben got forward down the left after 16 minutes, but saw his thunderous drive deflected over the crossbar.
Pepe was then booked for using his elbow and Madrid went down to 10 men shortly afterwards when Torres was sent off for an appalling challenge on Aquino.
Guti was booked for diving in the area 10 minutes later, and was himself extremely lucky to stay on the pitch after petulantly kicking the ball away in front of the referee.
Raul also went down just outside the box, but referee Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez was again unimpressed and gave the free-kick to Murcia.
Sneijder, Guti and Robinho then combined in a wonderful flowing move with half-time approaching, but Murcia keeper Fabian Carini came charging off his line to clear the Spaniard's threaded throughball.
Robben also shot straight at Carini just before the interval and Sneijder got back well to dispossess Henok Goitom following a dangerous Murcia counter-attack at the other end.
The Dutchman then set up Raul five minutes after the break and the Madrid captain looked set to score after taking the ball around Carini, only to be dispossessed by Stephane Pignol before he could fire into the empty net.
But four minutes later, the hosts did take the lead.
Pignol this time failed to clear his lines and Sneijder took advantage to put his side ahead with a lovely goal.
The former Ajax midfielder charged into the area to pick up the rebound, moved the ball forward with his left foot and curled a perfectly-measured shot into the top corner with his right in one movement.
At the other end, the league leaders were then lucky not to give away a penalty following Marcelo's clumsy challenge on Goitom.
Full-back Michel Salgado came on for Robinho as Schuster sought to defend his side's slender advantage with 10 men.
Royston Drenthe and Mahamadou Diarra also came on to shore up the Madrid back line and the home side absorbed the visitors' sporadic attacks with relative ease in the latter stages to move a step closer to another Primera Liga crown.