A goal by Marcelo was enough to guide Real Madrid to a 1-0 victory over Recreativo Huelva as the champions kept up the pressure on Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
Marcelo scored shortly after half-time with a sweet shot but Madrid squandered a number of great opportunities to extend the lead with Arjen Robben the major culprit.
However, victory will have been tempered by what appeared to be a serious injury to Wesley Sneijder who was replaced by Rafael van der Vaart.
Robben almost opened the scoring in the ninth minute when his left-footed shot was brilliantly parried by Asier Riesgo, with the Recreativo keeper also denying the former Chelsea winger with his feet minutes later from a close-range shot.
Javier Camunas had two long-range shots which failed to test Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas as Recre tried to test their illustrious visitors.
Juande Ramos' side had to be grateful to Casillas when he saved Tornavaca Aitor's close-range shot with his feet.
Gonzales Sisi almost put the hosts ahead midway through the half when his 20-yard shot was brilliant tipped round the post by Casillas who was at full stretch.
However, it was the visitors who came closest to opening the scoring when Raul had a shot which hit the post before Sergio Ramos inexplicably put the ball over the top when unmarked in front of goal as the ball came out.
There were few clear-cut chances in the rest of the period with the teams going in at half-time goalless, the hosts having had the better chances to open the scoring.
However, Madrid went ahead in the 49th minute when Fernando Gago fed Marcelo who was a step ahead of his defender and hit a sweet shot across the goalkeeper and into the net.
The visitors were dominant and had their hosts on the rack with Klaas Jan Huntelaar the next to go close, his shot parried by Riesgo before Robben's snapshot was beaten out.
Robben had the chance to put the victory beyond doubt when he was one on one with the keeper but his toe-poke was smothered and deflected out for a corner.
Ramos then had a close-range header which missed and Marcelo sent a shot from 35 yards over the bar.
While Madrid continued to squander their many chances to extend the lead, they were always vulnerable to the threat of an equaliser. Adrian Colunga had a left-footed shot from the left channel which was fumbled by Casillas.
Sneijder then had a long-range shot comfortably held by the home keeper as the visitors played down the final few minutes - although there was time for Colunga to have a shot which Madrid will have been relieved to see go over the bar.
The result sees Real keep up the heat on Barcelona although they are still six points adrift of the Catalan side while Recreativo find themselves still third from bottom.