A late bullet header from Cristiano Ronaldo – his second goal of the game – gave Real Madrid a narrow win over a spirited Eibar in an entertaining contest at the Ipurua.
Eibar defender Iván Ramis crashed home a header to cancel out Ronaldo’s opener, but the Portuguese forward struck again to steal the points.
After a resounding aggregate victory over Paris St Germain booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals, Los Blancos arrived in the Basque country looking to put the seal on an excellent week.
Eibar nearly grabbed the first goal when striker Kike’s bending shot was well saved by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Joan Jordán should have tested the Costa Rican again, but he could not direct his header on target following a Pedro León free kick.
The hosts were punished soon after when Luka Modrić intercepted Anaitz Arbilla’s loose pass before delivering a perfect ball to Ronaldo who slotted past Eibar’s Marko Dmitrović at his near post.
He could have netted again before the break, but this time Dmitrović did well to palm away a powerful effort from the edge of the box.
At the beginning of the second period, Eibar nearly scored in incredible fashion as Gonzalo Escalante’s deep cross-come-shot had to be tipped over by Navas for a corner.
The resulting set-piece produced the equaliser, as Ramis arched his body well to nod home a header into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, Real Madrid nearly retook the initiative when Modrić jinked gracefully into the Eibar area but could only drag his shot wide of the post.
Ronaldo was next to go close, but Dmitrović pulled off another stunning save to deny the visitors.
With 15 minutes remaining, Eibar’s Takashi Inui rushed onto a bouncing ball in the box, but the Japanese attacker couldn’t control his headed effort which soared over the crossbar.
José Mendilibar’s team kept pressing for a winner, next through substitute Paulo Oliveira who managed to cleverly hook an effort on target from a corner.
Kike had a wonderful opportunity to snatch a shock win for Eibar, but he could not control his attempt after being played through by Jordán.
With ten minutes remaining, the match winning moment arrived for Los Blancos. Modric shifted the ball wide to Dani Carvajal, whose accurate cross was headed in emphatically by Ronaldo in the six-yard box.
Jordán’s deflected shot in the closing stages nearly added an extra twist, but Navas had time to comfortably save the Spaniard’s strike.
Defeat for Eibar means they are at risk of losing ground to their mid-table challengers in what is a congested La Liga table, while victory for Zidane’s men keeps them on track for at least a third-placed finish.
Real Madrid’s next La Liga test comes at home to Pablo Machín’s impressive Girona, while Eibar travel to Levante.
Eibar: Dmitrović; Capa, Ramis (Oliveira 67’), Arbilla, José Ángel; Escalante (Diop 85’), Carrillo, León, Jordán, Inui (Charles 87’); Kike.
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Varane (Nacho 28’), Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Modrić, Kroos (Benzema 71’), Isco (Vásquez 71’); Ronaldo, Bale.