A stunning David Beckham free-kick helped stand-in Real Madrid coach Mariano Garcia Remon get off to a winning start against Osasuna.
Beckham turned the Bernabeu boos into cheers with his dead-ball ability
The under-fire Beckham produced one of his signature efforts from 25 yards out to give his side a 1-0 home win.
The win took Real two points clear at the top, although they have played an extra game to their rivals.
Beckham's England colleague Michael Owen returned to the bench after his start in the loss to Espanyol.
Beckham failed to score a free-kick at the Bernabeu last season, but has now scored two in his last two games to earn Real six vital points.
Yet while the England captain's goal ensured the points stayed in Madrid, it did little to hide the fact that the side once more failed to live up to their reputation as one of the best teams in the world.
"The team was under tremendous pressure," said Beckham. "It wasn't a brilliant performance but it was important to get the result.
"We can take heart from the togetherness of the team."
Real have been in turmoil this week after the shock resignation of former Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho on Monday.
Camacho quit after two dismal defeats in four days, citing a lack of faith in his ability to inspire any improvement in the side's below-par displays this season.
Fans barracked Madrid full-back Roberto Carlos throughout the game, holding
him responsible for Camacho's resignation.
"I am very surprised by the criticism of Robert Carlos. I do not know why he
was singled out, maybe it was because the press had said senior players forced
Camacho out," said Beckham.
The former Manchester United star was pleased to score his second free-kick in two games in Madrid.
"Scoring goals like that helps your confidence. Maybe the referees are
getting the walls to stand further back," he said.
Owen had only 10 minutes in which to shine after being brought on
as a late substitute.
"It is hard to start when it is already 1-0," said Owen.
"You want to impress and to score goals but what you really have to do is run the ball into the corners. It is not ideal but you have to try your best."