Real Madrid kept alive their hopes of overhauling La Liga leaders Barcelona when a James Rodriguez stunner set them on their way to a serene 3-0 home victory over struggling Almeria on Wednesday.
Barca, chasing a fifth Spanish league title in seven years, thrashed Getafe 6-0 at the Nou Camp on Tuesday and have a two-point advantage with four matches remaining.
Almeria held out against their illustrious opponents until the stroke of halftime at the Bernabeu when Rodriguez pounced on a loose ball and lashed a shot into the top corner from just outside the penalty area.
The European champions, depleted by injuries to forwards Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, doubled their lead four minutes after halftime when Mauro Dos Santos diverted the ball into his own net under pressure from La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward was unable to add to his tally and stayed on 39 for the season, one more than Barca's Lionel Messi who struck twice on Tuesday.
Full back Alvaro Arbeloa netted a rare goal to make it 3-0 five minutes from time, his third in 167 La Liga games for Real, when he turned the ball past goalkeeper Ruben Martinez from a Javier Hernandez centre.
"We are not sure that Barca will drop any points but we are certain that we can win our last four games," Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference.
"Now we begin a very important phase of the season, when every game is the most important," added the Italian, whose side face a tough trip to Sevilla in La Liga on Saturday and play at Juventus in their Champions League semi-final, first leg three days later.
Europa League holders Sevilla climbed above Valencia into fourth when Rodriguez’s Colombia teammate Carlos Bacca struck twice in a 3-1 success at La Liga debutants Eibar.
Valencia can reclaim Spain’s fourth Champions League berth, which carries a place in qualifying for Europe’s elite club competition, if they avoid defeat at mid-table Rayo Vallecano on Thursday.
Malaga's hopes of catching sixth-placed Villarreal, who host champions Atletico Madrid later on Wednesday, and securing a place in the Europa League suffered a setback when they lost 1-0 at Celta Vigo.