Real Madrid overcame 10-man Real Sociedad and an unhelpfully hostile Santiago Bernabeu crowd to reassert their grip on LaLiga's title race with a 3-0 victory.
A run of one win in five matches across all competitions, culminating in Wednesday's Copa del Rey exit against Celta Vigo, had prompted barracking from the stands for the league leaders, with captain Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo sounding pre-match calls for unity.
Those fell on deaf ears and dropped points for nearest rivals Barcelona and Sevilla earlier on Sunday did nothing to prompt a feel-good factor in the capital, as the visitors began with the confidence expected of a side boasting eight wins from their past 11 league outings.
Ronaldo was forced to shrug off further cat calls before setting up Mateo Kovacic for his first Liga goal of the season in delightful fashion.
Roles were reversed in the 51st minute when Ronaldo produced a finish to match an assist of the highest quality.
Inigo Martinez earned a second booking that had been very much on the cards 16 minutes from time, leaving substitute Alvaro Morata to confirm a four-point lead at the summit.
Sociedad remain a point shy of Atletico Madrid in fifth and Eusebio Sacristan's men were quick to show their attacking intent during the opening exchanges.
Teenage winger Mikel Oyarzabal stormed past Ramos and into the Madrid area, forcing an important clearance from Casemiro.
Some errant handling from home goalkeeper Keylor Navas offered further encouragement, while sections of the Madrid faithful resumed their habit of jeering Karim Benzema and Ronaldo when attacks broke down before the half hour.
A speculative left-footed effort from the four-time Ballon d'Or winner drew a predictably mixed response as it skidded wide in the 33rd minute, with Toni Kroos in space screaming for the pass in vain.
More nervy defending followed from the hosts but they sprung into life seven minute prior to the interval – Ronaldo emerging from his malaise to place a delicate pass into the path of Kovacic, who coolly slotted past Geronimo Rulli.
Ronaldo almost teed-up Benzema for a boo-boy silencing second but Madrid were still brittle at the back and Juanmi burst through their ranks again to thrash wide on the stroke of half-time.
The breathing space Madrid needed came six minutes into the second half, with Kovacic returning the earlier favour by threading a brilliant pass for Ronaldo to dink an exquisite finish as Rulli went to ground.
Despite the relative comfort Zinedine Zidane's side enjoyed as the match passed the hour, Benzema still contended with some whistles when Morata was introduced in his place.
The comparatively popular Spain international headed home Ronaldo's 72nd-minute free-kick only to be correctly flagged for offside.
Rulli then landed his team in hot water with a clearance straight to Lucas Vazquez, recovering to save from the Madrid forward, but the sense Sociedad were unravelling was heightened as Martinez untidily clattered into Casemiro to earn his marching orders.
Morata stooped to head the counter-attacking goal Madrid had threatened for much of the second period eight minutes from time, meaning Zidane and his squad can head to Vigo in search of revenge next weekend with more of a spring in their step.
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