Marcelo bailed out Real Madrid again as they scraped to a 2-1 victory over Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Marcelo conjured up his second match-winner in as many appearances to end Madrid's run of five games without a win, although the left-back hobbled off with a potential injury just five days before the Clasico against Barcelona.
Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema lined up for an ultra-attacking Madrid, who went with Lucas Vazquez at right-back, while Keylor Navas replaced Thibaut Courtois in goal.
Julen Lopetegui’s side ended a record goalless streak against Levante on Saturday and had lost four of their last five matches, among them a shock 1-0 defeat to CSKA Moscow last time out in the Champions League.
However, they faced a Plzen side who were thrashed 5-0 by Roma before the international break and Benzema needed just 11 minutes to head in from close range.
The goal saw the Frenchman join an exclusive club of players to score in 14 consecutive Champions League seasons, which included Lionel Messi and Raul Gonzalez.
Madrid were dominant in the first half as Sergio Ramos hit the post with a header, Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed and Isco saw a lobbed finish bounce the wrong side of Ales Hruska’s far post.
Benzema was particularly influential after he broke the deadlock, catching the eye with his ability to bring others into play, although he should have beat Hruska at his near post when afforded the chance.
Plzen, however, missed a sitter from a couple of yards out, and that moment of profligacy was duly punished by Marcelo, who chipped the Czechs’ goalkeeper before proudly pointing to his badge.
Benzema had a tap-in wrongly flagged offside and Lucas Vazquez fluffed his lines from point-blank range with a free header, but Patrik Hrosovsky took full advantage when he placed an angled finish into Keylor’s bottom right.
That made for a nervy ending at the Bernabeu, exacerbated by Marcelo limping off after he was on the receiving end of two strong challenges, but Los Merengues nonetheless returned to the top of Group G.
Real Madrid 2-1 Viktoria Plzen
Benzema 11, Marcelo 55 (RM) Hrosovsky 78 (VP)
Real Madrid: Keylor; Nacho, Casemiro, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Isco (Valverde 54); Vazquez, Benzema (Mariano 88), Bale (Asensio 75)
Viktoria Plzen: Hruska; Hubnik, Reznik, Limbersky, Hejda, Havel (Moses 76), Petrzela (Reznicek 86), Prochazka (Horava 65), Cermak, Hrosovsky, Krmencik
Referee: Grinfeld (ISR)