Antoine Griezmann struck after 39 seconds as Atletico Madrid beat Malaga 1-0 on Saturday to provisionally close the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to six points.
Diego Simeone`s second-placed side went ahead almost instantly when Griezmann capitalised on Saul Niguez`s deflected strike falling at his feet close to goal.
Jan Oblak saved a Roberto Rosales free kick in the second half as Atletico kept their opponents at bay to earn a narrow victory in typical fashion.
Malaga, glued to the bottom of the table, have picked up two points in their last eight games.
"We started very strongly, taking advantage of our opponent being off balance and we could score a goal which put us ahead," Simeone told reporters.
"It was an intense game, we were always putting the work in. We take with us a very important victory.
"The team is rejuvenated, it still has enormous hope, that`s clear to see. Everyone has played a lot of minutes, that`s why we are where we are, because the team worked well."
Earlier on Saturday, Alaves continued their good form under Abelardo, winning 2-1 at fifth-place Villarreal to move 16th, seven points above the relegation zone.