Real Madrid will go into next weekend's La Liga 'Clasico' at Barcelona eight points behind their great rivals after Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat-trick in a 5-1 win at home to promoted Deportivo Coruna on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho's side fell behind to a Riki goal against the run of play in the 16th minute but the result was never in doubt after they stormed back to lead 3-1 at the break.
The victory continued their revival after a woeful start to their title defence - they have already lost twice, the same number of defeats in the whole of last season - and lifted them to sixth on 10 points."We were a bit asleep at the start but after we fell behind we woke up and played a good match," Ronaldo, whose treble was his 15th La Liga hat-trick for Real, told Spanish television.
Undefeated Atletico Madrid climbed above Malaga into second on 16 points when Raul Garcia's 30th-minute header was enough for a 1-0 victory at bottom side Espanyol in Sunday's late game.
After Riki's early strike at the Bernabeu, Real were level within seven minutes when Angel Di Maria dashed in from the left and was felled by Manuel Pablo on the edge of the area.
Ronaldo stroked in the spot-kick before Di Maria made it 2-1 in the 39th minute when his initial effort was diverted on to a post by goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia and he followed up to nod the ball over the line.