Real Madrid climbed back to within six points of La Liga leaders Barcelona on Sunday, thanks to a 2-0 win at Eibar, where goals courtesy of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo paved the way to a three-point haul.
Ronaldo netted his 16th goal of the campaign after Real were awarded a controversial penalty late in the match, adding to Bale's 43rd-minute header.
Ronaldo's goal sealed Real's second successive victory following back-to-back defeats against Sevilla and Barcelona earlier in November, but Rafa Benitez's men still lie third in the Spanish top flight, two points below Atletico Madrid.
It was far from the convincing display Real were seeking in their bounce back to form, as Spanish football writer Sergi Dominguez attested, but the result rode above all else:
Karim Benzema started on the bench for Real, while Danilo and Nacho lined up at left-back and centre-back as respective replacements for injured pair Marcelo and Sergio Ramos.
The Liga combatants played out a fairly underwhelming first 45 minutes at the Ipurua, but Eibar could be pleased with their graft in managing to hold Los Blancos at bay for the majority of that opening period.
It was indeed the travelling party who took control of possession, but without Benzema to provide a focal point in attack, Bale and Ronaldo struggled to add the same lustre.
BBC Sport's Andy West highlighted the lack of understanding between the two free-roaming wingers, who at times looked devoid of direction:
But Bale had all the direction he needed to steer a Luka Modric cross in with his head just prior to the half-time whistle, a score that rattled Eibar's confidence at a crucial juncture.
The second half was hardly a step up in terms of entertainment, with Real's jumbled lineup still failing to function as desired. Sky Sports Statto put Ronaldo's subpar record this season into numbers:
While Real were lacking in cohesion and the midfield three attempted to get a hold of the ball, Eibar were helpless to do much in those instances when they did grab possession, fluffing their lines on multiple occasions.
Ronaldo made the home outfit pay for their misses with an 82nd-minute penalty, although Kieran Canning of Agence France-Presse pointed out Eibar's Daniel Garcia was unfortunate to be penalised for his tackle:
The two-goal margin doesn't necessarily paint a just picture of how close the contest was at times, but Eibar welcomed an onslaught of pressure to their doorstep and paid the price accordingly.
Los Blancos return to the Bernabeu next Saturday for a home clash against local rivals Getafe, and they'll be hoping to put a dent in Barca's resounding lead at the Spanish summit.
Sunday's victory will undoubtedly help relieve some of the pressure on Benitez in the wake of Real's recent patch of poor form, but the manager is relying largely on the club's enemies to drop points.
Eibar's defeat means Valencia can leap up to fifth if they prevail at Sevilla later on Sunday, and Jose Luis Mendilibar's men are at risk of tumbling down to the bottom half of the table if they can't correct their form soon.
Although Sunday's victory pulls Real closer within reach of Barca, Real can hardly become overexcited in the wake of their win over Eibar, which didn't come without its share of shaky moments.
Speaking to the press after the result, Benitez was eager to emphasise as much, per Carlos Forjanes of Spanish newspaper AS: “We’re still in November, we’ve had quite a few players out injured and the volume of games only complicates things. We have a great side and we will continue battling right up until the end."
The helmsman also took time to heap praise on Sunday's hosts, who could have had their chance at a share of the spoils were it not for Ronaldo's late, controversially awarded penalty:
"We knew that they are a good side in good form; they are an aggressive and intense side which gives this victory merit because the team had to work hard for it and do a lot of running. I’ve been here at Ipurua many times. I like seeing a team like Eibar, from a humble city in the First Division."