Dani Ceballos fired a La Liga debut double to ease pressure on boss Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid edged out Alaves 2-1.
Former Real Betis midfielder Ceballos capped his league debut for Real with a smart first-half brace that set Zidane's men back to winning ways.
The 21-year-old was reported to have been frustrated to remain an unused replacement as Real lost 1-0 to his former club Betis on Wednesday night.
But Ceballos set any moans aside to put Real back on track against Alaves, despite Manu Garcia's fierce headed equaliser and substitute Alfonso Pedraza twice hitting the post for the hosts.
Real's victory ensured Zidane's men cannot lose any further ground on Barcelona, who started the weekend with a seven-point advantage over their rivals.
Zidane defended Real's start to their title defence by joking that one win in their last four games had left his tenure "jinxed," before reasserting himself as the club's "shining star."
Real might have prevailed on the road but were far from restored to their glittering best.
Pointless Alaves ended their five-game goal drought thanks to Garcia's bullet header, and grafted throughout to make Real work for their win.
Ceballos took just 10 minutes to vent his recent frustrations and prove his worth to Real, cutting into the box off the left flank, riding a double challenge and sliding home the opener.
The Spain under-21 international wheeled away in delight after rebuffing two defenders before angling a low shot past Fernando Pacheco.
Carlos Vigaray's crude challenge on Nacho gifted Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to line up a trademark free kick drive from an acute angle on the left flank, but the talisman forward's rasping shot was headed clear, and then somehow Alaves claimed parity.
The hosts broke at pace, Munir checked back to his right and whipped a teasing ball across goal, allowing Garcia to storm into the box and power a bullet header past the stunned Keylor Navas.
But just as the hosts set themselves to turn around on level terms, up popped Ceballos again, this time drilling home after Pacheco's spilled cross.
The ex-Real keeper raced out in a bid to deny the lurking Ronaldo, only to flap tamely and gift Ceballos with his second goal, on the stroke of half-time.
Alaves were level at 1-1 for just three minutes, but Real laboured to kill off the match after the break.
Ronaldo saw a curling left-foot shot strike the post, before Sergio Ramos had a goal chalked off despite heading home from a corner.
Garcia was perhaps fortunate to escape a red card for Alaves after elbowing Lucas Vazquez in the head.
Pedraza then hit the post twice in quick succession -- first with a rasping shot from distance, then after flicking past Navas when clean through on goal.
Ramos should have settled the affair between Pedraza's two efforts however, fluffing wide after another spilled cross from Pacheco.