Real Madrid kept up the pressure on Primera Division leaders Barcelona by beating Almeria 3-0 at the Bernabeu to return to within two points of their fierce rivals.
Twenty-four hours after Barcelona dismantled Getafe 6-0 to go five points clear at the summit, Carlo Ancelotti's side were clinical against Sergi Barjuan's strugglers as a stunning James Rodriguez volley, a Mauro dos Santos own-goal and a late Alvaro Arbeloa strike sealed a routine victory.
A fifth successive league victory sees Real move on to 82 points -- two behind Barcelona -- with four league games remaining. Almeria, meanwhile, remain firmly involved in the battle to avoid relegation as their fifth defeat in seven games leaves them just two points from the bottom three.
Ancelotti made five changes to his starting line-up with Arbeloa, Keylor Navas, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao and Jese all starting.
Sixteen-year-old Norway midfielder Martin Odegaard, meanwhile, appeared on the Real bench for the first time since joining from Stromgodset in January.
Almeria welcomed back defender Sebastian Dubarbier from suspension, while Corona and Verza added some much-needed experience to their midfield.
Real started encouragingly and Rodriguez should have done better than head wide after a fine counter-attack move saw Asier Illarramendi deliver a tantalising cross into the box from the right wing in the fourth minute.
Almeria goalkeeper Ruben then had to be alert to repel a seventh-minute shot from Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portugal forward burst into the box and pulled the trigger.
But Real failed to build on their early chances and seemed destined to go into half-time level with Almeria until a moment of quality from Rodriguez broke the deadlock with seconds of the first half remaining.
Almeria defender Angel Trujillo could only head a speculative ball to the edge of the area into the ground and it sat up perfectly for Rodriguez to volley emphatically past Ruben and into the back of the net.
Real doubled their advantage early on in the second half when Almeria defender Dos Santos diverted Toni Kroos' right-wing cross into his own net with Ronaldo set to pounce.
Javier Hernandez should have made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute but he could not divert a probing right-wing Ronaldo corner into the net from close range despite getting in front of his marker.
It mattered little, however, as full-back Arbeloa scored his first league goal in six-and-a-half years with five minutes remaining to put further gloss on what was already a straightforward victory.