Real Madrid bounced back from their embarrassing elimination from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player in midweek by cruising to a 4-1 victory over Getafe on Saturday.
Karim Benzema was restored to the starting line-up and scored his first two goals since being caught up in a blackmail scandal involving French international teammate Mathieu Valbuena inside 16 minutes.
Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo then made it 4-0 before half-time before Alexis pulled a goal back for Getafe 21 minutes from time.
Victory moves Madrid up to second and cuts the gap on Barcelona at the top of the table to three points.
However, Barca can restore their six-point advantage when they travel to Valencia and Atletico Madrid can retake second place with victory at Granada later on Saturday.
Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo started a league game for just the fourth time this season and just as in early season thrashings of Real Betis and Espanyol, their presence restored Madrid’s fire-power up front.
Any sign of the fans’ frustration at the club’s latest gaffe in being eliminated from the Cup due to an administrative error was eased when Benzema fired home from Pepe’s fine cross after just five minutes.
Benzema has rarely featured in the last two months due to an ongoing hamstring injury allied to his off-field problems.
However, the Frenchman looked back to his best as he was only denied a second with a bullet header by a brilliant save from Vicente Guaita moments later.
Benzema did double Madrid’s advantage on 16 minutes when he slotted into the bottom corner from Bale’s headed cut-back after Ronaldo appeared to have been fouled inside the area.
The one way traffic continued as Bale flashed a shot just wide from 25 yards and then forced Guaita into a more comfortable stop from the edge of the area.
However, the Welshman wasn’t to be denied 10 minutes before half-time when he showed great composure to finish from Ronaldo’s knockdown to score for the second consecutive league game for the first time since January.
Ronaldo finally got in on the act three minutes later at the end of a devastating counter-attack as he latched onto Toni Kroos’s fine through ball to register his 17th goal of the season.
Understandably, Madrid’s intensity dipped after the break, but Benzema did have a chance to seal his first hat-trick in five years when he curled well over from the edge of the area.
Instead it was Getafe who rounded off the scoring when Alexis powered home Pedro Leon’s corner to reduce the arrears.