Cristiano Ronaldo scored a penalty and missed another as Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 3-1 to go provisionally top of La Liga before Barcelona and Atletico Madrid play later on Wednesday.
The Portuguese blazed a spot-kick over the bar after 24 minutes but slotted home another three minutes before the break.
Sociedad substitute Bruma equalised for the visitors after 49 minutes before Ronaldo struck a volley through a crowded penalty area into the net midway through the second half.
Lucas Vazquez sealed the win with a goal after 87 minutes that will ease the pressure on coach Rafa Benitez.
“Sometimes you play better or worse but what is important is to get the three points,” Vazquez told reporters.
“The public has the right to applaud or whistle. We have to keep working on these lines and win games.”
Real have 36 points from 17 games with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid a point behind. Barca have two games in hand and face Real Betis while Atletico meet Rayo Vallecano.
Madrid started the stronger with defender Pepe having a header from a corner tipped over by keeper Geronimo Rulli and Ronaldo was denied by the Sociedad stopper.
Real won a penalty after a slight push from fullback Yuri on Karim Benzema but Ronaldo missed a penalty for the 1th time in his career with a poor effort that went over the crossbar.
He made no mistake with a second spot-kick, though, tucking the ball into the right corner after Gareth Bale’s cross was handled by Yuri.
Sociedad lost Sergio Canales with suspected knee ligament damage but came out stronger in the second half and Bruma, given too much space on the right of the area, curled a shot into the top corner.
Just as the game was turning Sociedad’s way and the fans were starting to get on the back of the Real players, Ronaldo volleyed in from a corner for his 57th goal of the year and Vazquez struck late from another Bale cross.