Real Madrid edges Malaga behind Ronaldo's goal

Malaga, Spain ( - Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half goal was enough as Real Madrid held on for a 1-0 win at Malaga on Saturday to remain three points clear at the top of La Liga.

Ronaldo tested Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero early in the match and Isco also went close for Real in the opening 10 minutes.

Malaga had a good look at goal as well when Roque Santa Cruz headed over from close range in the 13th, while Madrid found the lone goal of the contest 10 minutes later.

Gareth Bale laid a ball off to Ronaldo on the left and he did the rest, cutting inside on his right foot and curling a shot into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Caballero.

The hosts carved out a few chances for Nordin Amrabat which failed to produce a goal before the break, but Madrid netminder Diego Lopez wasn't seriously troubled over the final 45 minutes and Madrid held on for three crucial points.

Atletico Madrid kept pace with the leaders on Saturday as the club held off Espanyol, 1-0, through a goal from Diego Costa in the 55th minute.

The club remains three points back of Real with the win while it moves four points clear of third-place Barcelona, which hosts Osasuna on Sunday.

Celta Vigo claimed a 1-0 win at Levante behind a first-half goal from Nolito, while Levante's David Barral failed to convert a penalty kick in the 61st minute which would have leveled the match.

Rayo Vallecano moved out of the bottom three on Saturday behind two goals from Joaquin Larrivey in a 3-1 win over Almeria.