Real Madrid overcame an early blow and were made to toil after half-time for a 3-1 LaLiga win at Leganes.
The victory moves Zinedine Zidane's reigning champions up to third in the table above Valencia, although the hosts struck first as defender Unai Bustinza claimed his first senior goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo was given the night off by Zidane and, with Gareth Bale starting on the bench, Casemiro assumed the unlikely role of being Madrid's creative driving force.
The Brazilian midfielder created the 11th-minute equaliser as Spain winger Lucas Vazquez continued his impressive recent form and converted a glorious winner before the half hour.
Madrid shipped three goals in Sunday's win at Real Betis but Zidane was grateful to see Sergio Ramos marshalling a more robust backline as 13th-placed Leganes probed without reward during the second period, and the Madrid captain made sure of victory by coolly dispatching a penalty in the final minute.
The European champions are still seven points shy of Atletico Madrid in second and 14 behind leaders Barcelona.
1 - Casemiro has both scored and assisted in a same game for Real Madrid for the first time ever in all competitions. Crucial. pic.twitter.com/meLBxRRyaN— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 21, 2018
Despite the likes of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Marcelo being out through injury, Zidane still elected to rest Ronaldo and first-choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Madrid made a lackadaisical start and Navas' replacement Kiko Casilla was picking the ball out of his net in the sixth minute.
Gabriel Pires flicked on a left-wing corner at the near post and, after seeing his initial attempt saved, Bustinza flung himself towards the ball, taking Theo Hernandez's clearance on the top of his head to net an unusual diving header.
Madrid's response was impressively swift, with Casemiro intercepting a poor clearance and feeding Karim Benzema before improvising a flick from Mateo Kovacic's pass that allowed Lucas to clip a precise finish across Ivan Cuellar.
Casemiro was again at the heart of things when Madrid took a 29th-minute lead – this time providing the finishing touch himself after exchanging passes with Benzema and accepting Lucas' assist to crown a glorious one-touch move.
Madrid were comfortably on top as the half wound down, with Benzema almost heading a third from Lucas' cross.
Leganes impressively got themselves back on the front foot during the early stages of the second half – Asier Garitano's double switch, sending on Ruben Perez and Martin Mantovani in place of Dimitrios Siovas and Gerard Gumbau, rewarded with a spirited showing.
Tito slotted a pass down the Madrid left to Nabil El Zhar and Claudio Beauvue got on the end of his low cross to force a point-blank stop from Casilla.
El Zhar had a penalty claim following an untidy challenge from Kovacic rejected – the infringement did appear to take place fractionally outside the area – and Madrid continued to do more work in their own half than they would have liked.
Bale came on 15 minutes from time, curtailing an industrious and accomplished display from the much-maligned Benzema.
The Wales international almost picked out the bottom corner after springing the offside trap, but it was Ramos who grasped the ball and made no mistake when Diego Rico bundled Kovacic to the floor.
Key Opta facts:
- Casemiro has both scored and assisted in a same game for Real Madrid for the first time in all competitions.
- Lucas Vazquez is the player with most assists in LaLiga in 2018 (five), alongside Lionel Messi.
- Only Cristiano Ronaldo (10 goals and 2 assists) has been involved in more goals for Real Madrid than Lucas Vazquez (4 goals, 6 assists) in 2018 in all competitions.
- Real Madrid have taken more penalties than any other LaLiga side this season in all competitions (12, 11 scored).
- Sergio Ramos has scored in three consecutive LaLiga away games (three goals) for the second time, the first since September-Octtober 2007.
- Real Madrid conceded their fastest goal in LaLiga this season (five minutes and four seconds).
|Manning says Brees deserves to break his record for career passing yards|
|Hornets want Walker to play entire career with Charlotte|
|Avalanche sign Grubauer to three-year extension|
|Argentina struggles down to team, not just Messi – Hierro|
|Casey leads Travelers by four after firing 62|
|Scotland run riot in Argentina as Hourcade tenure ends in defeat|
|Germany´s Rudy in doubt for South Korea clash|
|England produce storming fightback to beat New Zealand|
|Shaqiri, Xhaka facing disciplinary action over goal celebration|
|Kvitova takes WTA lead for wins by easing into Birmingham final|
|Jones: England back on road to being world´s best|
|Germany survive in Sochi but questions remain|
|Germany 2 Sweden 1: Late Kroos winner brings Low´s men back from the brink|
|Perisic dreaming of matching Croatia´s France 98 heroes|
|Veron questions Sampaoli for leaving Icardi out|
|Southgate won´t blame injured Alli for playing through pain barrier|
|Travelers Championship: Course invader drives Rory McIlroy and crowd nuts|
|Saul tells Atletico to renew Oblak deal after Griezmann´s new contract|
|Course invader sends McIlroy & crowd nuts at Travelers Championship|
|Saudi Arabia v Egypt: El Hadary eyes history in dead rubber|
|Referee declines Cheika invite after Australia´s series loss to Ireland|
|Griezmann, Mbappe can eclipse Henry, claims Trezeguet|
|Nawalka hopeful of Glik return against Colombia|
|Mexico outsmart South Korea to join Croatia as unheralded World Cup threats|
|´No drama´ for Southgate after England team sheet leak|
|Hend caught by five in Pulheim as Bjerregaard goes low|
|´Little Pea´ Hernandez hits big Mexico milestone in World Cup win|
|Modric and Rakitic the best midfield in Russia - Corluka|
|Cipriani and Farrell ease pressure on Jones as England avoid SA whitewash|
|South Korea 1 Mexico 2: Hernandez nets landmark goal as last 16 beckons|
|Ozil and Khedira axed by Germany|
|Djokovic plans to use two rackets against Cilic after reaching Queen´s final|
|World Cup of penalties? Russia surpasses Brazil after VAR introduction|
|Neymar ´fully recovered´ but Brazil coach Tite has thigh injury|
|Hansen claims France ´clutching at straws´ after another referee controversy|
|Douglas Costa, Danilo out of Brazil´s Serbia clash|
|Hamilton claims 75th pole as Mercedes dominate in France|
|´Mentally strong´ Salah will overcome World Cup disappointment, says Mane|
|Pekerman contemplating unleashing James and Quintero together|
|Schmidt hopes Australia furnace will produce Ireland diamonds|
|I´m missing practice, but it´s OK - Federer ready for Coric|
|Spain v Morocco: Alba makes case for the defence|
|Team-man Lukaku firmly in the race for individual prize|
|Belgium 5 Tunisia 2: Lukaku and Hazard shine as Red Devils run riot|
|Leaked England team gives Panama no advantage, insists Gomez|
|Mane and Senegal holding no fear for Japan|
|Murray to meet Wawrinka at Eastbourne|
|Nigeria goalkeeper Ikeme in remission after year-long cancer battle|
|Lukaku breaks Belgium record against Tunisia|
|Iran v Portugal: Team Melli bullish over qualification chances|
|Mauresmo to be France´s first female Davis Cup captain|
|Maradona angry at Argentina World Cup performances|
|Ireland cap stunning season with series win over Wallabies|
|Uruguay v Russia: Selection posers for already-qualified pair|
|Federer scraps his way to yet another Halle final|
|Lunin rejected ´3,000 offers´ to join Real Madrid|
|On your bike! Iceland physio sent home after cycling accident|
|Not just Real Madrid interested in Fekir, says Aulas|
|France frustrated by officials again as All Blacks complete sweep in style|
|Jose Enrique reveals brain tumour surgery|
|The referee was a disaster, fumes Matic|
|Lakmal to captain Sri Lanka in Chandimal´s absence|
|Alli back in England training|
|McIlroy, Watson plotting moves as Harman leads Travelers Championship|
|Tearful Neymar is a joyful boy, says Jesus|
|Ruiz: Coutinho has the same quality as Neymar|
|Kovacic announces intention to leave Real Madrid|
|Red Sox edge Mariners in 34-hit extravaganza|
|Marquez asks Mexico fans to ´let them rest´|
|Fabregas hopeful of Spain recall|