Málaga managed to play tough for just under 23 minutes until Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 240th career goal for Real Madrid to give his side a 1-0 lead. Ronaldo collected the ball on a long, cross-pitch pass from Gareth Bale and proceeded to calmly turn, dance past three Málaga defenders and curl a low shot past the diving hand of Willy Caballero.
Things were not all sunshine and rainbows for Madrid in the first half, though. In the 31st minute, striker Karim Benzema was forced to hobble off the pitch after picking up a knock.
Isco -- who moved into a false nine role when Benzema left the match -- wasted a great chance in the 51st minute after Ángel di María made a cutting run to set him up on the left side of the Málaga box. Caballero did an excellent job of both coming of his line and staying on his feet as long as possible to limit Isco's options, and it paid off as the Madrid attacker skied his shot over the crossbar.
Pepe got away with a red card tackle against Duda in the 60th minute, recklessly cleating the Málaga midfielder on his knee as he went for the ball. Despite the blood, the referee didn't even whistle a foul, but Duda was shown a yellow card for his animated outburst at the linesman over missing the clear foul.
Málaga got a dream chance at equalizing in the 75th minute when Roque Santa Cruz's flick on header from inside the box found a charging teammate at the top of the Madrid box. Unfortunately, it was defender Sergio Sánchez, and his shot was nowhere near on target.
Madrid were able to withstand a furious push by the Anchovies late to hold on for the victory. The result keeps them six points clear at the top of the table with El Clásico looming next Sunday.
Málaga: Caballero, Angeleri (El Hamdaoui 86'), Sánchez, Flávio, Antunes, Camacho, Tissone (Portillo 68'), Samu (Yakovenko 68'), Duda, Amrabat, Santa Cruz
Real Madrid: López, Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo, Modrić (Illarramendi 90'), Alonso, Isco (Jesé 63'), Bale Benzema (Di María 32'), Ronaldo
Goals: Ronaldo (23')