Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale played integral roles as Real Madrid picked up a nervy 3-2 derby win at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
The visitors looked to be on course for a big win after Ronaldo's double, which sandwiched a Karim Benzema strike, but two penalties in as many second-half minutes from Jonathan Viera put a different complexion on the match.
Real held on despite late pressure, closing the gap on leaders Barcelona to six points, leaving their hosts rooted to the foot of the table.
Rayo boss Paco Jemez made only one change from their defeat at Osasuna, bringing in Nacho Martinez for Alberto Bueno.
In contrast, Carlo Ancelotti continued to rotate his squad as he made six alterations from their win over Sevilla, with Xabi Alonso making his first start of the season.
Fresh from putting seven past Sevilla on Wednesday, Real appeared in clinical mood again and it took Ronaldo only three minutes to break the deadlock as he collected Luka Modric's pass and confidently placed an effort into the bottom far corner.
That strike was his 19th in 15 matches this season, making it his best start to a campaign, and although Rayo had a goal disallowed through Iago Falque, Real continued to stretch the hosts' defence.
Bale set up the next two goals at Estadio de Vallecas as his right-footed cross was headed past Ruben by Benzema after 31 minutes, the Frenchman's third goal of the week.
And the Welshman squared to Ronaldo three minutes into the second half for Real's third, with the visitors seemingly in cruise control.
But the rampant visitors saw their progress halted soon after as Dani Carvajal brought down Viera in the box and the striker picked himself up to convert the spot-kick after 53 minutes.
Remarkably, he was afforded the opportunity to reduce the deficit further just two minutes later – Marcelo the offender this time, fouling Falque after Joaquin Larrivey's header had come back off the crossbar.
Viera kept his cool to double his tally and bring it back to 3-2, with Real clearly rocking.
Jemez's side thought they had equalised with 25 minutes to go, but Diego Lopez tipped first-half substitute Bueno's effort on to the post.
Saul missed a glorious chance to equalise in the area with just over 10 minutes to play as he knocked wide while off balance, before Ronaldo forced Ruben into a smart double save at the other end.
Right-back Tito headed narrowly wide of Diego Lopez's post in stoppage time, but Real claimed the points to extend Rayo's losing streak against their illustrious neighbours to 11 matches.
|19||Jonathan Viera||53' 55'|
|Coach: Paco Jémez|
for Adrián 42'
for Arbilla 51'
for Iago Falqué 68'
|Zeman resigns from Cagliari post|
|Opportunity knocks as Dyche plans for Barnes absence|
|Berbatov dreaming of Champions League semi-final|
|Benzema adds to Real´s injury concerns|
|Jenkinson: West Ham will not settle for mid-table|
|Montella calm over fan frustrations|
|Blanc: Barca are the model for PSG|
|Newcastle just need three more points - Janmaat|
|Gaya: Six finals left for Valencia|
|Muller wary of Porto counter-attacks|
|Bartomeu plays down Pogba link|
|Verratti hails ´essential´ Ibrahimovic|
|Zidane backs PSG to upset Barca|
|America v Montreal Impact: Klopas unfazed by host´s form|
|Vlaar open to Villa stay|
|Shepherd urges fans not to boycott Newcastle|
|Maritimo 1 Nacional 1: Tiquinho ensures derby finishes all square|
|Fiorentina 0 Verona 1: Diamanti and Neto pay the penalty|
|Elche 1 Real Sociedad 0: Bergara gifts win to hosts|
|Van Persie returns in Under-21 game|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Galatasaray slip sees Fenerbahce go top|
|Russian Premier League Review: Arsenal Tula and Rostov maintain survival bids|
|Frontzeck named as Korkut´s replacement at Hannover|
|Lopetegui wary of Bayern backlash|
|Pastore plays down Cantona´s world best tag|
|PSG absences no excuse for failure - Blanc|
|Suarez sad to see Gerrard leaving Liverpool|
|Cleber injury adds to Hamburg woes|
|Northern Ireland free to play Romania at Windsor Park|
|Juve sweating on Vidal availability|
|Monaco v Juventus: Evra ready to take control|
|Striking concerns for Chelsea after Drogba injury|
|PSG and Chelsea have bid for Dybala, claims agent|
|Pogba can leave Juve for ´right offer´|
|Bendtner dropped after arriving late for training|
|Messi achievement unrepeatable, says Luis Enrique|
|Football League Preview: Preston and MK Dons battling to join Bristol City|
|Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid: Ancelotti optimistic amid injury concerns|
|Iniesta declared fit for PSG second leg|
|Bale remains a doubt for Atletico clash|
|Schweinsteiger set to face Porto, Ribery to miss out|
|No broken cheekbone for Silva|
|Final appearance can remove negativity at Villa - Fox|
|Bale selected in Football League Team of the Decade|
|PSV director: United and PSG want Depay|
|Korkut sacked by relegation-threatened Hannover|
|Sherwood: Pressure all on Arsenal|
|Newcastle in a ´dangerous moment´ - Colback|
|Kovac hopes to have Modric fit for Euro qualifier|
|Copa Libertadores Preview: Cruzeiro boss Oliveira does not fear sack|
|MLS Review: Revs extend unbeaten run, Timbers stun City|
|Fournier proud and disappointed|
|Shaw ready to make an impact|
|Hazard among best three in the world - Mourinho|
|Carver: Newcastle are in relegation battle|
|CAF Champions League Review: Setif get two away goals, Al Ahly denied late on|
|Inzaghi praises Milan derby officials|
|La Liga Review: Granada frustrate Sevilla, Villarreal´s woes continue|
|Inter should have had a penalty, Mancini fumes|
|Ligue 1 Review: Lyon return top after derby draw|
|Inter 0 Milan 0: Disappointing derby ends in stalemate|
|Primeira Liga Review: Sporting made to battle, Penafiel running out of time|
|Balotelli targets officials in latest social media outburst|
|Bundesliga Review: Werder Bremen edge Nordderby, De Bruyne rescues Wolfsburg|
|Serie A Review: Napoli close on stumbling Roma|
|Pochettino congratulates 30-goal Kane|
|Rodgers questions Liverpool´s mental strength|
|Carver counting on experience after latest defeat|
|Sherwood marvels at Grealish potential|
|Eredivisie Review: Dordrecht relegated as Go Ahead Eagles stun Feyenoord|
|Newcastle United 1 Tottenham 3: Losing streak continues amid fan boycott|
|Kouyate elbow on Silva accidental - Allardyce|
|Aston Villa 2 Liverpool 1: Delph ends Gerrard´s hopes of dream farewell|
|Pellegrini hails City response to derby defeat|
|Silva back home after Kouyate elbow|
|Manchester City 2 West Ham 0: Silva injury sours routine win|
|Bayern Munich v Porto: Neuer rallies Germans for uphill battle|
|Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain: Marquinhos keeps the faith ahead of Camp Nou test|
|Fer closes in on QPR return|
|Crouch set for surgery|
|Dortmund confirm Tuchel as Klopp replacement|
|Adams leaves relegation-threatened Tranmere|
|Real still unsure over Modric injury|
|Tevez rubbishes Juve exit talk|
|Moyes: I had to fight to keep Rooney at United|
|Perth Glory 3 Melbourne City 1: Maclaren treble the difference|
|Dyche: Burnley are too honest|
|Illarramendi eager for Real stay|
|Hazard issues Chelsea warning|
|MLS Review: Injury-time winner buoys Galaxy, Martins shows class for Sounders|
|Pastore talents ´unpredictable´ - Blanc|
|Liverpool much bigger than City - Rodgers|
|AFC Champions League Preview: Evergrande look to progress|
|Clarke expects distraught Federici to bounce back|
|Toure is City´s scapegoat - agent|
|Allegri praises high-flying Juve|
|Athletic Bilbao 4 Getafe 0: Hosts end winless run|