Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale came off the bench and coolly converted a penalty kick to secure a 2-1 win at Levante in La Liga on Sunday.
It was a match in which the European champions rode their luck to stay within nine points of leaders FC Barcelona.
Real came under heavy pressure early on, but Karim Benzema gave them the lead towards the end of the first half from the spot.
Thereafter, a penalty kick was awarded for handball following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.
Levante, who pulled off a shock 2-1 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this season, deservedly drew level on the hour mark.
It was through a sliding finish from Roger Marti, who had struck the woodwork twice before the interval.
Real Madrid struggled to impose themselves on the game but were awarded another hotly-contested penalty kick following a VAR review.
That was when Casemiro went down in the box following light contact.
Wales forward Bale, who had only replaced Benzema minutes earlier, deceived Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez with an ice-cool finish from the spot.
But he barely celebrated the goal, brushing away team mates who tried to congratulate him.
Real Madrid had defender Nacho Fernandez sent off for a second booking late in the game.
The Spaniard’s first yellow card meant he was already ruled out of next Saturday’s “Clasico’’ at home to FC Barcelona in the league.
Real Madrid are third in the standings on 48 points, two behind Atletico Madrid who beat Villarreal 2-0 earlier on Sunday and still adrift of Barca.