(CNN) -- Real Madrid continued their impressive winning streak under new coach Juande Ramos, producing another workmanlike performance to see off Racing Santander 1-0 at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Gonzalo Higuain netted his 13th goal of the season with an angled drive just after the break, as Madrid made it eight competitive wins out of nine -- and seven in succession -- since Ramos replaced Bernd Schuster in the hotseat.
The victory also saw Madrid cut Barcelona's lead at the summit to nine points, although the pacesetters can extend that again on Sunday when they host Sporting Gijon.
Meanwhile, late goals from Sergio Garcia and Ricardo Oliveira saw Real Betis triumph 2-1 in a passionate Andalusian derby clash at Sevilla -- beating their fierce city rivals away from home for the first time in 13 years.
Garcia struck with 20 minutes left just after Sevilla had been reduced to 10 men following the sending-off of midfielder Aldo Duscher.
January signing Oliveira secured a deserved win for Betis on his second debut for the club with seven minutes left on the clock.
Frederic Kanoute headed a consolation for the home side in added time, but the visitors held on for a precious derby triumph.