Real Madrid displaced Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a hard-fought and hugely controversial win over Real Sociedad at the Reale Seguros Stadium on Sunday.
Sergio Ramos scored from the spot and Karim Benzema added a second which required VAR intervention before Mikel Merino pulled one back for the hosts late on to bring up a grandstand finish.
Former Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj had a goal controversially ruled out for the hosts who will rue refereeing decisions as their bid for a top-four spot suffered a setback.
With Barcelona having been held by Sevilla two days ago, Real now move level with the Catalans on top of the log with 65 points but lead the standings by virtue of having a superior head-to-head record.
Real Sociedad, meanwhile, stay sixth five points off Sevilla in fourth but remain in Champions League contention with eight games of the season left.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane handed a first start to James Rodriguez since October as he rotated his frontline with only Benzema keeping his spot from the 3-0 win over Valencia Thursday.
Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior replaced Eden Hazard in the starting lineup and was lively throughout winning the penalty from which Real took their lead after the first-half finished level.
Ramos stepped up to dispatch the penalty in the 50th-minute for his seventh league goal of the season before suffering an injury minutes later which saw him replaced by Eder Militao.
The hosts up the ante after falling behind and went close on a few occasions before second-half substitute Januzaj thought he’d equalised but his 68th-minute effort was ruled out as a teammate was adjudged have blocked Thibaut Courtois’ line of vision while standing in an offside position.
The decision didn’t prove too popular with Sociedad’s bench and they were incensed further when Benzema extended the visitors lead with what appeared to be his arm but the goal was given after VAR confirmed it went off his shoulder.
The hosts poured forward as they sought to salvage the game and when Merino scored in the 83rd-minute it appeared an equaliser was on the way but substitute Aritz Elustondo missed a decent header late on as Real escaped with all three points and are now in the driving seat as the title challenge heats up.