Real Madrid ended their long wait for a Spanish La Liga victory by beating Real Valladolid 2-0 on Saturday with two late goals.
It was interim coach Santiago Solari’s first home game in charge of the struggling European champions, and it was fitting that they won.
Brazilian teenager Vinicius Jr. gave the new coach and an impatient Bernabeu crowd a lift in the 83rd minute by cutting in from the left and firing a shot.
The shot was heavily deflected into the net off Real Valladolid’s Kike Olivas and awarded as an own goal to the defender.
Real Madrid had been fortunate not to go behind on two occasions in the second half when Ruben Alcaraz and Toni Villa hammered the crossbar.
But the home side sealed a first win in six league games when captain Sergio Ramos netted an 88th-minute penalty kick.
The win lifted Real Madrid provisionally from ninth place up to sixth in the standings on 17 points.
They are now seven behind leaders FC Barcelona who beat hosts Rayo Vallecano 3-2 later on Saturday.
Still reeling from their humiliating 5-1 defeat at Barca last week, Real made an impressive start against a Real Valladolid side unbeaten in their last six outings.
But their early chances soon dried up and they were loudly booed off at halftime.
“When things don’t go your way you have to keep calm and keep sacrificing and we kept believing, even though we were up against a team who have been playing very well. It was a difficult occasion because of the run we’ve been in and changing coach,” Ramos said.
“We have to lift ourselves up, we understand the fans’ frustrations and why they are booing. We have to change that, and after we scored the fans were lifted again. With a few good results we’ll get the fans believing in us again.”
Gareth Bale was given particularly rough treatment from the home fans when he was substituted.
Not even usual favourite Marco Asensio escaped the howls of unhappy supporters when he made way for Vinicius, who had barely played under Solari’s predecessor Julen Lopetegui.
Vinicius had excited fans in the Copa del Rey against Melilla in midweek and his flair and bursts of pace injected some verve into Solari’s side.
It led to them finally breaking the deadlock, though the goal owed a lot to Olivas’ unfortunate attempt to block the shot.
The goal was harsh on Valladolid and sucked the life out of the visitors, whose defender Nacho gave away a clumsy penalty kick by falling into Benzema.
Ramos coolly converted from the spot, transforming the earlier boos into relieved celebrations.
“We needed to win, and you don’t get out of tough moments like the one we are in by winning easily,” Solari said of the scrappy nature of the victory.
“I would like to win every game 7-0 with three bicycle kick goals but football is more complicated than that.
“You have moments of beauty when everything goes well and delicate times when you have to be organised, serious and show competitive spirit.”