Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane had admitted that his side must improve on their performance during their 3-2 win over Malaga on Saturday if they are to have any chance in securing their second successive La Liga title come the end of this season.
It looked as though it was to be business as usual for Los Blancos when Karim Benzema fired in the opener with less than 10 minutes on the clock, however a strong fight back from
Boquerones, who netted their first away goal of the campaign with a tidy finish from Diego Rolan nine minutes later, brought the tie level again.
The hosts were then given the chance again to build from a lead, as Casemiro nodded home for his third of the season almost instantaneously, but Cristiano Ronaldo and co. once again saw their advantage wiped out after Chory Castro's long-range, second-half effort skimmed through the hands of goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
But it was indeed the Portuguese star, who has been struggling in front of goal so far this term in the Spanish top flight, who had the final word, tucking home a rebounded penalty after Malaga goalkeeper Roberto's smart save to his initial attempt from 12 yards.
Despite the victory, Zidane recognised his side's performance could have been more convincing, and has insisted his side must improve somewhat if they are to mount a serious challenge on Barcelona's current seven-point lead.
"We started the game strongly, and managed to get the first goal which is always important, but they came back at us quickly", the Frenchman told the club's official website.
"We got the second and then after the half-hour mark we couldn't keep the ball. Possession is one of our weapons and we lost the ball too often today. The second half was tough.
"We're happy with the result because Málaga are a team with real character and at 2-2 with not long left, we managed to net the third goal.
"Some things were good, and others weren't exactly as we would have liked. The opposition gives it all they've got when they come here.
"We have to be aware that if we don't hit the heights, sometimes it can be like today when we find life difficult, but we shouldn't get carried away and say it was a poor performance all round.
"We can play better, yes; we have to play better, yes. The way we lost the ball today was poor."
Barcelona now have the chance to re-establish their 10-point gap over Real Madrid on Sunday evening, when they take on fellow La Liga high flyers Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium.