Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti hailed his team's superb all-around display after his team stretched their lead atop La Liga table with Sunday night's 2-0 win at Elche.
Madrid were the better team throughout the 90 minutes, but had to wait until the second half for goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo to seal a deserved win.
The result, along with Barca's shock 1-0 loss at home to Malaga on Saturday, means that Ancelotti's side now have a four-point advantage over the Camp Nou outfit at the top of the Primera Division.
At his post-match news conference the Los Blancos coach said it had been important for his side to take advantage of their rival's slip-up, however there remained a long way to go in the title race.
"It was an important game after what happened yesterday, above all to take a lead over Barcelona," Ancelotti said. "So we did well in every aspect, defensive, attacking, quality, we played very, very well. It is clear that their defeat surprised everyone, as Barca had been in very good form, playing very well.
"So it was a surprise, and clearly we have a lead now, but as I have said many times this title will be decided on the last day of the season."
Ancelotti praised above all his team's hard work and defensive resilience, having now not conceded a goal in their three games since losing 4-0 at Atletico Madrid a fortnight ago.
"Since the loss against Atletico, when we lost four goals, we have kept three clean sheets," he said. "So it is clear that the team has begun to defend well, everyone together. No goals conceded, not even many chances. That is the aspect in which we have improved the most.
"With this attitude we will win a lot of games, the team understood very well that it was an important game. We did very well in that sense, everyone worked very well. The team is improving bit by bit, we are improving in physical condition, we must keep going."
The victory came in Ancelotti's 100th game in charge of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu club, and was his 78th win -- one more than predecessor Jose Mourinho managed in his first 100 matches.
The Italian, who has won four trophies including the long awaited 'Decima' Champions League trophy but was last weekend whistled by his own team's fans at the Bernabeu, said he hoped to have success at Madrid long into the future.
"The first 100 have gone well," Ancelotti said. "And I hope the next 100 do too."
There was also praise for midfielder Isco, who again showed how his coach will have a selection headache when Luka Modric and James Rodriguez soon return from injury.
"Isco is playing very well, game after game, with a lot of quality, and a lot of intensity," Ancelotti said. "It is difficult to say what happens when others return."