Cristiano Ronaldo netted twice as Real Madrid thrashed Valencia 4-1 to bounce back from their Copa del Rey shock against Leganes, moving to within two points of Saturday's hosts in the process.
Ronaldo netted a pair of penalties in the first half and although Santi Mina pulled one back for Valencia after the break, Marcelo made the game safe six minutes from time after combining with Marcos Asensio. Toni Kroos completed a fine away day by firing home Madrid's fourth one minute from time.
Real started the day 19 points off leaders Barcelona and still reeling from their midweek cup exit, which prompted further speculation surrounding Zinedine Zidane's future as boss.
A run of two wins from six heaped pressure on coach Zidane, who named his "BBC" frontline of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Ronaldo for the first time together in 280 days, and was rewarded with a crucial win.
Madrid had not won any of their last four in La Liga going into the match -- their last victory on the road at Getafe on Oct.14 prior to Saturday -- but Ronaldo's strikes sent them on their way to victory.
The away side took the lead on 15 minutes when Ronaldo was fouled by Martin Montoya in the penalty area and Real Madrid's all-time leading scorer converted the penalty for only his second away league goal of the season.
Geoffrey Kondogbia then forced Keylor Navas into a decent save before Montoya was caught once again, fouling Benzema in the area seven minutes before the break. Ronaldo stepped up to slot home his second of the match and 101st penalty of his professional career.
With the Mestalla increasingly agitated, Rodrigo Moreno squandered an excellent chance to get Valencia back into the match but missed from inside the box after good work from Mina.
Valencia found a way back into the game on 58 minutes, though, when Mina nodded in Daniel Parejo's cross to half the deficit.
With the away side vulnerable from there, the hosts should have dragged themselves level eight minutes later. Parejo had the freedom to pick his spot but with only Navas to beat, he scuffed his effort and allowed the Costa Rican the opportunity to save.
Rodrigo was the latest to test Navas and Valencia sensed a breakthrough, but once again Navas was equal to it as Real Madrid escaped with their lead in tact. Under mounting pressure, Zidane then hauled off Bale and replaced him with Lucas Vazquez.
Simone Zaza replaced Rodrigo with 15 minutes remaining but Madrid had weathered the worst of the storm as they closed out the game. Ronaldo should have finished with a hat trick late on but he squandered the opportunity to make it 3-1.
It did not matter, though, as two quickfire goals sealed a big win. First, Marcelo made it three after finishing a fine move involving Asensio and then Kroos added further gloss to the scoreline to complete a superb day for Madrid and their under-fire boss.