La Liga: Advantage Barcelona as Real Madrid, Atletico held
Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty as Real Madrid's hopes of catching La Liga leaders Barcelona were all but ended with a 1-1 draw at Malaga on Sunday.
Madrid remain nine points behind Barca with 13 games to go after Raul Albentosa cancelled out Ronaldo's opener. Atletico Madrid also failed to gain significant ground on Barca as they were held 0-0 at home by Villarreal to move eight points behind in second.
However, Gary Neville's upturn in fortunes as Valencia boss continued with a third win in a week, 2-1 at Granada.
Zinedine Zidane's men were left to rue Ronaldo's miss from the spot to make it 2-0 before the break when Carlos Kameni dived to his left to parry the three-time World Player of the Year's effort.
"It is obviously going to be difficult because we have dropped two points, but we won't give up," said Zidane.
"There are 39 points still to play for. You think the league is lost, but the players and myself don't believe that."
Madrid were without the injured Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, while James Rodriguez was left on the bench by Zidane. The visitors were lucky to go in front as Ronaldo headed home Toni Kroos's free-kick despite clearly standing in an offside position.
There was no doubt about the penalty award two minutes later, though, when Ronaldo was brought down by Weligton.
Yet, despite being normally lethal from the spot, the Portuguese was denied by a fine low save by Kameni.
Malaga missed a great chance to level before the break as Jesus Navas parried Duje Cop's shot into the air and Sergio Ramos got back to clear the looping ball off the line.
And Navas then made an incredible stop just after the restart when Nacho turned Juanpi's cross towards his own goal. Yet, the Madrid stopper was finally beaten when Malaga's two centre-backs combined for the equaliser as Weligton's low cross was coolly slotted home at the back post by Albentosa.