The Frenchman's first-half strike was cancelled out at the death by the former Villarreal man as the hosts saw their lead at the top of the league reduced to eight pointsReal Madrid's 11-game winning streak in La Liga has came to an end as Malaga secured a dramatic 1-1 draw late on at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Despite the visitors enjoying large spells of possession during the game, Karim Benzema put Los Blancos ahead until Santi Cazorla fired in a beautiful stoppage-time equaliser to ensure the spoils were shared, meaning the gap to Barcelona at the summit of the table is now eight points.
The Real Madrid players showed respect to the plights of Eric Abidal and Fabrice Muamba at kick-off, wearing two-sided shirts offering messages of support to the duo in their respective battles with illness.
When the game began, a flurry of chances for both sides made for an exciting spectacle, and Willy Caballero was the first goalkeeper to be called into action after just two minutes. Benzema met Lassana Diarra’s cross at the near post and flicked it on goal, with his effort almost looping over the keeper and into the net.
Malaga, coming off the back of a three-game winning streak, were unperturbed, and forced a save from Iker Cassilas just two minutes later. Cazorla spotted Salomon Rondon’s run across the top of the box but the Venezuelan could not find the corner of the goal with his effort.
After Caballero made another two saves from Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka respectively, the visitors forged another great chance to take the lead on the 15-minute mark.
Nacho Monreal breezed past makeshift right-back Lassana Diarra and played the ball to Isco, but he dragged his shot wide of the goal, when perhaps he should have did better.
In an open game, Los Boquerones seemed unfazed by the task at hand but looked occasionally vulnerable to the Madrid counterattack.
With 28 minutes played, Benzema changed the pace of the attack with a cute one-two on the left of the box with Ronaldo. The France international opened his body and looked to bend the ball into the bottom corner, but failed to hit the target.
But the deadlock was broken in the 35th minute and it was the hosts who took the lead. Ronaldo was given too much space on the left and bent in a delightful ball for Benzema to finally got his goal with a simple header at the back post.
The second half was a much more subdued affair, with both sides adopting a tentative approach in order to not be exposed.
Visiting coach Manuel Pellegrini brought Ruud van Nistelrooy on for the final 30 minutes as his side tried to find and equaliser, and the Dutchman was given a rapturous ovation by the home crowd for whom he won two Liga titles.
Moments after Monreal produced a last-ditch clearance to deny Benzema a tap in, Caballero then saved expertly from Ronaldo. With an hour played, Kaka’s through ball put the Portuguese in on goal, and although he attempted to caress the ball past the Argentine keeper, his strong hand kept the ball out.
Malaga were clinging on as Madrid upped the tempo with two efforts in quick succession. Mesut Ozil was proving dangerous on the ball as he initiated a move that ended with Jose Callejon seeing his header cleared behind by Monreal.
One minute later, Benzema missed a golden chance to put the game to bed. Ozil’s cutback from the left looked to have gifted him a goal but he somehow fired the ball wide of the target.
The visitors searched for an equaliser and it came in dramatic fashion. Cazorla fired in a glorious free kick from 25 yards out to rescue a point for his side in stoppage time, helping their own efforts in their attempts to clinch Champions League football.
The late goal means that Jose Mourinho's men saw their lead over Barcelona at the summit of La Liga reduced to eight points over the weekend, and Malaga now sit joint-fourth with Levante.