MADRID, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Sergio Ramos was Real Madrid's hero as they defeated Malaga 2-1 in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to ensure they reach the midway point of the season as leaders of the Liga Santander.
The central defender, who last weekend scored an own goal as Madrid lost 2-1 away to Sevilla, scored a powerful header to open the scoring in the 35th minute of the game and was then on hand to poke home the second three minutes before halftime, although replays showed he and two other Madrid players were all offside.
Real Madrid went into the game after defeats against Sevilla and Celta Vigo in the past 7 days brought their 40 game unbeaten run to an abrupt halt, but coach Zinedine Zidane resisted the temptation to make sweeping changes to his starting 11 against a rival that travelled to Madrid with nine players out.
Madrid created several chances before Ramos' opening goal, but Karim Benzema was guilty of two bad misses after being set up by Lucas Vazquez, who gave Malaga left back Juan Carlos a torrid time.
Cristiano Ronaldo was also guilty of missing a one on one with Malaga keeper, Carlos Kameni, while at the other end Chori Castro was unlucky to hit the Madrid post with Keylor Navas beaten.
There was a blow for the home side when Marcelo went off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Isco after just 25 minutes, but Ramos' opener went a long way to steadying nerves among the home fans.
Those nerves surfaced again after 67 minutes when Juampi got Malaga back into the game with a well taken finish after Keylor Navas had done well to deny Juan Carlos and had the Madrid keeper not produce a smart save to deny Castro a minute later it would have been 2-2.
Kameni almost gifted Madrid a third when he totally missed a backpass, but recovered well to deny Ronaldo, who then hit the post as the game opened up, but Madrid rode out the closing minutes without further scares.